Blog Archives — Carrington Malin

April 6, 2024

It’s 20 years now since I signed up for LinkedIn, so here are 20 things I’ve learned from the B2B social networking platform.

To mark my 20 years on LinkedIn, here are 20 things I’ve learned from LinkedIn, since I joined the B2B social networking platform on April 6th, 2004. Of course, my experience does extend beyond LinkedIn, and the lessons I’ve learned are also not exclusive to LinkedIn either.

  1. LinkedIn is hands-down the best social network for B2B. I’ve lost count of the number of customers I’ve signed as a result of LinkedIn outreach, inbound connections, referrals from my connections, let alone paid-for LinkedIn marketing campaigns. Although it’s critical important to respect the people that you target.
  2. Everyone has their own motivations for using LinkedIn. For some, its simply where they look for their next job. For some, it’s their way of staying up-to-date on business news and trends. Some want to sell. Some want to network. Some don’t actually know!
  3. Networking is great, but trust wins business and that doesn’t come quickly. I love connecting with interesting people on LinkedIn and I’m happy to try to help people that connect with me. However, any meaningful business involves a commitment on both sides and that requires trust. Just because someone accepts your invite to connect, doesn’t mean that they have any reason to trust you.
  4. Different people can help you in different ways. A connection’s value to me often has nothing to do with their job title or where they work. Sure, it’s great to be connected with leaders in exciting roles around the world, but these are generally the connections that I have the least frequent contact with. When I’m asking for help, they are often too busy, or simply not online.
  5. When someone likes your post, it doesn’t mean that they’ve read it! People like LinkedIn posts for different reasons. They could be reciprocating your Likes on their posts, they might have the intention to read it later or it could be just a random impulse to like something whilst scrolling! The people that actually read your posts are the minority.
  6. Success isn’t related to how successful people say they are. Or the number of likes someone gets! Some company’s seem to develop cultures where liking your boss’s post is something you do, even if you disagree with everything he’s ever done! Likewise, someone who has just achieved a success that others may only dream of, may not even mention it on LinkedIn.
  7. Opinions are like – well, you know! Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some like to share it widely, some only share their opinion when prompted by someone else’s content, some seem to bestow it on their followers like it is a rare gift to mankind! I often end up learning things from opinions that I completely disagree with.
  8. Some people just don’t Like or comment. However, some of them do read. Many times I’ve assumed, wrongly, that someone hasn’t read my article, blog or seen my LinkedIn post. Then, when I mention it to them later, they say “yes, of course, I read it”. That’s actually more valuable to me than a Like.
  9. LinkedIn’s algorithm favours mass media. I can’t count the number of times, I’ve casually shared a new story from the mass media and seen it get ten, twenty or even thirty times the Likes than when I’ve shared original content that I’ve spent the whole day on. And this doesn’t seem to depend on the quality of the mass media story either!
  10. Don’t assume that connections actually read your profile! I receive messages virtually every day requesting calls and meetings to discuss potential projects, opportunities or collaboration ideas. Every week at least one of those people has asked for the meeting, because they’ve assumed they know something about me without reading my profile.
  11. LinkedIn profiles are two-dimensional, people are not. I’ve worked hard on my Linkedin to ensure that it represents me well, appears in the right searches and highlights what I offer to followers, connections and business contacts. However, whilst profiles are a great tool to help you learn more about someone, there’s much that you cannot learn about someone from their LinkedIn profile. Don’t assume too much!
  12. Your story is your story. Your brand is your brand. Still, it may take you a while to fogure out how to tell your story via LinkedIn. Do seek advice and listen to feedback or suggestions for your LinkedIn activities. However, remember that what works great for someone else on LinkedIn, may not suit you. Don’t adopt someone else’s tactics or content ideas, unless you think they will resonate with your most valuable audiences.
  13. Automating poorly harms your brand. There are many tools that promise to make your life easier on LinkedIn, notably GenAI content tools, message automation tools and LinkedIn marketing tools themselves. You have to ask yourself, what you would feel when seeing such content or receiving such messages. If you don’t actually know, because you don’t pay that much attention to your own automated content, then you’re likely doing yourself and/or your brand more harm than good.
  14. Yes, there are fakes and frauds on LinkedIn. As with all social platforms, LinkedIn gets its fair share of fakes and frauds. Sometimes these are easy to spot, sometimes not so easy. A new profile with few details, few connections and a professionally take photo of a pretty woman is one of the easiest fakes to spot! When in doubt, there is always the option to decline the invite to connect, or even delete the connection!
  15. Connection without conversation is pointless. I always start a conversation with new connections via a brief intro message. I want them to know what my focus is in case there is an opportunity to cooperate with them in the future, and I want to understand what they do for the same reason. At the very least, I’ll be able to go back to that conversation later to remind myself why we connected in the first place.
  16. Referrals have more value than cold approaches. Any 2nd level LinkedIn connection is connected to one of your existing connections. That means that its possible you could get introduced by one of your existing connections. When you actually have an opportunity to talk to a 2nd level connection about, a referral from one of your 1st level connections will help you build trust faster.
  17. A little empathy and respect cost you nothing! Everyone is is at a different point in their own journey. LinkedIn has members that are students through to retirees. There are over 200 nationalities on LinkedIn and so many users that dont’ have English as their first language. It’s easy to be dismissive of posts, messages or comments because they don’t fit your own world-view. It’s just as easy to be kind.
  18. Most people will say nothing. Regardless of whether they agree or disagree, or approve or disapprove, most people won’t comment on your posts. Just like most people won’t comment on that new “visionary leader” title that you’ve just given yourself. Nor tell you how impressed they were by something you shared last week. So, don’t read too much into people’s feedback on LinkedIn, or lack of it.
  19. Persistence, resilience and balance! Everyone needs to pick their own comfort level with LinkedIn. However, if you expect to get business results from LinkedIn, it pays to be persistent. Big followings and engaged connections can take years to build – this includes periods of time when your efforts may not be rewarded. How much effort you put in, needs to align with your ultimate goals. There’s nothing wrong with just spending an hour on LinkedIn each week, just don’t expect to become a shooting star.
  20. You reap what you sow. What value you get out of LinkedIn, depends heavily on what you value you put in. Be interesting, people will be interested. Be helpful, people will be helpful in return. Post frequently and even LinkedIn algorithm will be more supportive of your efforts.

I hope that you enjoyed my list of  ‘ 20 things I’ve learned from LinkedIn’ . If you haven’t yet found me on LinkedIn, click here.

Read my last article about LinkedIn:

March 17, 2024

Without methodically planning your sales and marketing, you are just as methodically planning to fail. Yes, even if you’re just an early stage venture with little budget.

I’ve talked to dozens of AI startup founders over the past few years. All of them passionate about their technology. All obsessed with what their technology can do for customers. Most, fortunate enough to have one or two customers that are innovation leaders and have helped them develop their proof of concepts. And, sadly, most of them seem to think that sales and marketing is not a priority. They often think that its something that new ventures don’t need to make a priority of, or perhaps only once they have more funding than they need for product development. They are wrong.

Before I provide you with an explanation. Let me begin by saying that I don’t blame tech founders for not prioritising sales and marketing. I’ve worked in sales and marketing for my whole career and the fundamentals are obvious to me mainly because of that. I can’t code, I don’t know how to build tech products. So, it’s hardly a surprise to me that sales and marketing is not the strong suit for many highly educated, experienced and talented technology developers. Why would it be?

If sales and marketing were both limited to outreach without strategy, both would be highly inefficient and unproductive.

In my experience, coders, software developers and system engineers tend to associate sales and marketing with what they see. Sales might seem like its all about salespeople getting out there and meeting people. So, human resource and a lot of talking!

Meanwhile, the most visible output from marketing is content. I’ve met many technical people that confuse creativity and creative content with marketing. They think marketing is advertisements, website copy and social media posts. So, therefore, in their minds, it’s a creative endeavour.

Now, of course those assumptions are mostly true. However, if sales and marketing were both limited to outreach without strategy, both would be highly inefficient and unproductive. If a you want a vehicle to travel from from point A to point B, it needs a steering wheel, to chart a course, and someone who can oversee the journey, direct actions, maintain the course and accomplish the goals of the trip.

Taking your message to people every day is the lifeblood of sales. But, it has to be the right message and you need to be talking to the right people. Sales requires a strategy that externalises your company proposition, product benefits and your vision effectively. Sales must also position your product appropriately against the alternatives, create a dialogue with customers that identifies needs, and present your product as the best-fit solution for the customer.

Likewise, much of the ongoing effort in a marketing department is spent on developing and running campaigns, and so that does include creative work and content. As with sales success, marketing is dependent on taking the right message to the right people. Marketing also plays a key role in defining and positioning your product in the terms that the market will understand, taking care to position it as relevant in the market context, and taking steps to help create a better environment to sell it in.

Common misconceptions often shape new ventures’ first investments in sales and marketing.

Common misconceptions often shape new ventures’ first investments in sales and marketing.

If you believe that sales is talking to people and the main goal is to talk to more people, perhaps young, energetic sales executives with good communications skills, are a good hire. But these sales hires will not help you with aligning the sales proposition, presentations, targeting and pricing of your product in context of the market.

If you believe that marketing’s job is to make noise and give you more visibility, then you may opt for young hires that know how to post on social media, write media content and organise events. But these hires will not help you with developing a robust strategy that aligns with market segments, ideal customer profiles, competitor pricing and your product vision.

In big global companies the research, strategy and definition is often managed by different teams, to the implementation and tactics. This highlights another problem, which is the availability of those skill sets in your region. Often big US or European tech leaders hold that expertise at their head offices: everything else around the world is mostly execution. So, hiring someone from such firms isn’t necessarily a solution, if their main expertise is effective execution of corporate strategy.

It is not a question of scale or maturity. It is a matter of measure.

Although expertise and experience usually play a key role in shaping sales and marketing, sales is not dependent on salespeople, and marketing is not dependent on having a marketing team, or a big advertising budget. It is not a question of scale or maturity. It is a matter of measure.

Every tech venture should have a written sales and marketing strategy. Depending on the sector, product and stage of the business, this could be a few slides, a single document of just a few pages, or a comprehensive set of plans, budgets, research, roadmaps and schedules. The role of such plans are to inform your day-to-day activities, whilst helping you plan and position your business for the future.

So, why do need to be this methodical, if you only have a small team with a limited sales capability and/or marketing budget?

1 – Many founders are great visionaries, but poor salespeople!

I’ve met many founders that can hold forth for hours on their product, the technology market and their vision for how technology will change the world. Invariably, this impresses other techies, but their pitch is often not focused on what their product brings customers now, or why it meets customer needs today. Founders can prove to be the best salesmen in the company, but what they say to whom, needs to be clearly defined (and practiced).

2 – Founders who are great salespeople, must often close every single sale!

There’s no doubt, most founders get better at selling as they grow their business. They get used to the things that customers ask and enjoy giving them chapter and verse on how the product was developed to meet their challenges. The problem with this is that, often, even long after multiple salespeople have been onboarded, the only person in the company who can close a sale, is the founder (because no one else has an effective sales story to tell!). Furthermore, it maybe the case that the founder can only do this with a customer that is an innovation leader and so is maybe more inclined to listen to the founder’s life story, in order to understand what the product does. Most customers won’t really want to do this.

3 – Early stage customers are often innovation leaders, that changes!

A tech venture’s first customers are often innovation leaders, these appear at the beginning of the technology adoption lifecycle. These are the organisations focused on innovation, with tech-savvy specialists and decision makers that are prepared to take risks in order to embrace innovation. Although ideal for ventures with new technology to develop and sell, these customers can prove to be few and far between. Just because you have found a customer that is very focused on your technological advantages and is happy to discuss them for hours, it doesn’t follow that the customer’s counterparts in other companies are similarly disposed. Most customers require that you make it easy for them to see understand benefits, win internal support, justify the purchase and buy.

4 – When you’re a new or fast-growing business, everyone should be selling!

We all need to be in sales. When you’re a small business everyone in the company needs to be equipped to help spread the word, position your business in the market and sell your product. That’s how you can ‘punch above your weight’, begin building a reputation in the wider market and also become a sought after employer. To do this, you will need to have developed a powerful story that everyone can tell (i.e. not just the founders). This is where sales and marketing meets human resources. What you do, how you sell and who your product helps, should be ingrained in your organisation.

The first step in meeting all four of these challenges, is to distill what it is that you are selling down to simple plans, goals, messages and proof points. It is also important to develop a strategy to take this to market, in context of the market environment, competition, prevalent pricing, customer pain points, and the vision for your product.

A technology venture that can build a sustainable, growing business on product development alone, is a very rare animal. Your business only becomes a leader when everyone else says it is. So, first you need an effective strategy to reach and convince the right customers, partners, opinion formers and opinion leaders, whilst growing your revenue. Big budget, small budget, or no budget, that’s what sales and marketing is for.

Image: Microsoft Ventures Seattle Accelerator (Credit: Microsoft)

September 4, 2023

So, you think that your AI generated content is fooling everyone? Think again.

If you are happily creating articles, posts and comments using Generative AI, feeling safe in the knowledge that no one will ever guess that your content is ‘AI’, dream on! Your audience is already developing a sixth sense to instantly tell human and GenAI content apart.

I’m telling you this to be kind. The more people that dismiss what you share as ‘fake’ AI content, the more chance there is that you are harming, not enhancing your personal brand.

So, as a well-known advocate of AI solutions and an intensive user of AI, why am I, of all people, telling you to be wary of posting AI generated content? To explain further, we have to consider the dynamics of today’s social media, the value of ‘Likes’ and how digital content impacts your ideal audience.

A common misconception is that more Likes equal greater validation of the content that you share. In reality, people Like your content for different reasons, while the volume of Likes can often have more to do with how the platform’s algorithm treats your piece of content, rather than its own particular merits.

So, who Likes your posts and articles?

    • The people that know you best, or consider themselves to be your fellow travelers on the same journey, may give your content a Like purely to be supportive.
    • People that follow the topics that you post about, may Like your content because it’s within their main area of focus, but that doesn’t mean they have to read it!
    • Similarly, people that use LinkedIn or other social media to keep up-to-date with the news, may Like your content if it delivers an interesting headline.
    • If you tag people or companies, then you may receive Likes in return, just on the basis that all publicity is good publicity.
    • If your followers include a lot of coworkers, subordinates or students that you teach, you may receive a lot of Likes, because either (hopefully!) they like the job that you’re doing, or are seeking recognition, themselves.
    • Then there are those that Like your content because they have read it, enjoyed reading it, or have derived value from doing so.

Make no mistake, that last category (the readers) are the minority!

If you’re a LinkedIn user then you will know that LinkedIn gives you the option to react to a post using different Likes (Celebrate, Support, Love, Insightful and Funny). I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen the ‘Insightful’ Like used on posts with an erroneous, or broken link, to the content that they apparently found ‘Insightful’! Social media is a world where Love doesn’t mean love, Insightful doesn’t necessarily mean insightful, and Like doesn’t even have to mean like! In itself, the value of a Like is nothing.

Another factor to consider in assessing how well your content is doing, is that fact that your biggest fans may not react on social media at all! I frequently get comments about my articles, newsletters and reports via direct messages, Whatsapp, or offline during ‘real life’ conversations from people that never, or almost never, Like, comment or share on LinkedIn. Typically, these are my most valuable connections, such as senior decision makers, subject matter experts and public figures. It’s sometimes frustrating that they don’t Like or comment, but it’s far more important and valuable to me that they take the time to read my content.

AI generated content

So, returning to our topic of AI generated content, what is your measure for how successful your content is?

This obviously depends a lot on your own goals for creating that content to begin with. My goal, for example, is typically to provide value and insight to my targeted senior decision makers and subject matter experts. Their time permitting, these are my most valuable readers, and so I’m careful to ensure that their time will be well-spent reading my posts and articles.

Let’s consider your own goals, audiences and approach to content for a moment. Who are you trying to impress? What will encourage your top target audience to read your content and return to do so again and again? What is the key message that you want to reinforce? And what forms of content is your key audience most likely to consume and respond to?

Now, the big question is where does AI content fit in?

What’s the impact of one of your most valuable connections finding that your latest post, or article, is actually quite generic and clearly not written by you. Will that realisation affect how your connection thinks about you? And is that connection now more likely, or less likely to spend time reading your content in future? It probably depends on the format and purpose of that piece of content, and how appropriate the information used in it is for the reader in question.

However, let me be clear, before we proceed further. Before it sounds like I am dismissing all AI generated content. I am not. I use AI generated content in my work all the time, although rarely in the form it is first generated. I routinely edit and re-write most pieces of AI content.

What value does GenAI written content have?

Today’s AI generated text content (and I say today’s, because the quality and value of AI content is constantly changing) has different value depending on the format, purpose and type of information offered.


  • Due to the way that generative AI models work, they are the most convincing and most accurate the shorter the piece of text is. They can generate full blog posts and articles to an average quality, but the longer they are, the more apparent it is that the article lacks the nuance that a human writer would add. Meanwhile, where context is needed, most generative AI chat services draw primarily on content that may be months, or years old. Finally, since AI creates articles based on other articles that have been written by many other people (including both good writers, and poor ones), originality is not GenAI’s strong suit.


  • The usefulness of GenAI written text to you and your readers is going to heavily depend on the purpose of the content or communication. If your purpose is to simply inform, then GenAI provides a fast and efficient way of organising information and communicating key points. At the other end of the scale, if your purpose is to share new thinking, or influence the opinion of others, then there are definite pros and cons. If your purpose of using GenAI is to win recognition for being a great writer, then please, just don’t do it!


  • What type of information you wish to include in your content is also key to the value and usefulness that GenAI can provide. For example, if you wish to present an argument in favour of something, is this a logical argument based purely on the facts, or an opinion-led argument with few facts to rely on? Does the content you wish to share come from the public domain, or from the beliefs and values that you hold inside? AI is clearly going to be much better equipped to create content without opinion, beliefs or values. Where such thinking is important, GenAI needs careful input, guidance and revision, if it is to create content that is close to your own opinion, beliefs and values.

If you’ve following my thinking so far, then it will probably be obvious to you where the cracks begin to appear when you start publishing AI generated content, or try to pass it off as your own.

What are the risks?

Now ask yourself, where are the biggest risks for your personal brand in using GenAI to create your content and communications? What’s the worst that can happen if your contacts, connections, colleagues, peers and readers identify your content as AI generated? Again, I believe it depends entirely on the context.

As an avid consumer of content via Linkedin, my problem with AI generated content is two-fold: emotional and logical.

Why do I have an emotional problem with AI content? When I open and read a short post, a long post, or an article from a connection, I feel that I have some measure of vested interest. So, when I read their insight or opinion, only to find that it’s GenAI, I often feel a negative emotional response. My immediate reaction is that ‘this is fake’. It’s emotional because I often take the time to read such content to learn about, or to understand the other person’s opinion. So, it’s basically disappointment.

Secondly, there are a number of logical problems that I now have when discovering GenAI content out of context, or being passed of as original thinking. If I consider the content to be valuable, then I treat it the same as human generated content. Why wouldn’t I? However, life is rarely that simple! Here are some of the new social media quandaries that I come up against:

  • When someone that I know and respect, posts GenAI content believing that it will pass as their own original written content, and it clearly fails to do so, should I tell them? Should I Like their content, even though I don’t? Do I have time to explain to them carefully and respectfully what the problem is?
  • When someone posts an AI generated comment on one of my social media posts, blogs or articles, that simply repeats a fact from my content without sharing an opinion, posing a question or adding value, should I Like it? How should I reply? Or should I delete it to save embarrassment all round?
  • When someone messages me and asks me to endorse a piece of content that looks like it was generated by ChatGPT in about 60 seconds, what do I say to them?

For what it’s worth, my own personal guidelines for using AI are to be as honest and transparent about my GenAI usage as I can. So, anything I use that has a significant element of GenAI created content in it, I now share with a credit or disclaimer.

It is true that GenAI can prove to be valuable to people that are not great writers, but it’s also true that it is only by gaining experience as a writer or editor, that you will have the tools to edit AI text content to be more human, and represent your personal brand better.

The famous horror-fiction writer Stephen King, says this in his book about writing:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

This is true of any form of writing.

When you’re learning to write better, writing ‘does what it says on the tin’. Reading and writing more comments will make you better at writing comments; reading and writing more social media posts will make you better at writing posts; while reading and writing more long-form articles will make you better at that. And each of those things will make you better equipped to more effectively use, edit and filter AI generated content to build your personal brand, rather than dilute it.

If you believe that you can skip that learning process and automate your content generation, without becoming its thoughtful moderator, then your GenAI content is probably only fooling one person: yourself.

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April 14, 2021

Brazil’s national artificial intelligence strategy – a Estratégia Brasileira de Inteligência Artificial or EBIA in Portuguese – was published in the Diário Oficial da União, the government’s official gazette, last week. The publication of the Brazilian national AI strategy follows a year of public consultation (via an online platform), seeking recommendations from the technology industry and academic experts and benchmarking (2019-2020) and a year of planning and development. The strategy focuses on the policy, investment and initiatives necessary to stimulate innovation and promote the ethical development and application of AI technologies in Brazil, to include education and research and development.

As a country that has struggled with both racial equality and gender equality, it’s no surprise that ethical concerns and policies are made a priority by EBIA. Therefore, core to the strategy is that AI should not create or reinforce prejudices, putting the onus on the developers of artificial intelligence systems to follow ethical principles, meet regulatory requirements and ultimately the responsibility for how their systems function in the real world. Ethical principles will also be applied by the government in issuing tenders and contracts for solutions and services powered by AI. The strategy also embraces the OECD’s five principles for a human-centric approach to AI.

Brazil's national artificial intelligence strategy chart

It’s important when reviewing the new EBIA to take into account the Brazilian Digital Transformation Strategy (2018),or E-Digital, which puts in place some foundational policy relevant to AI. E-Digital defines five key goals 1) promoting open government data availability; 2) promoting transparency through the use of ICT; 3) expanding and innovating the delivery of digital services; 4) sharing and integrating data, processes, systems, services and infrastructure; and 5) improving social participation in the lifecycle of public policies and services. This last goal was clearly embraced in the development of EBIA by including the year-long public consultation as part of the process.

More to follow on Brazil’s national artificial intelligence strategy…

Download A Estratégia Brasileira de Inteligência Artificial (EBIA) summary (PDF, Portuguese)

Also read about last year’s publication of the Indonesia National AI Strategy (Stranas KA) and Saudi Arabia’s National Strategy for Data & AI.

October 21, 2020

The Saudi national AI strategy was announced today at the virtual Global AI Summit by Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) president Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi. The National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI) includes ambitious goals for skilling-up Saudi talent, growing the nation’s startup ecosystem and attaining global leadership in the AI space. It also aims to raise $20 billion in investment for data and AI initiatives.

Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, President of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) today gave a brief introduction to some of the key goals of Saudi Arabia’s national AI strategy, now named the National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI). Speaking at the inaugural Global AI Summit, he advised that Saudi Arabia has set ambitious targets for its national AI strategy, including a goal of attracting $20 billion in investments by 2030, both in foreign direct investment (FDI) and local funding for data and artificial intelligence initiatives.

As detailed by Dr. Al-Ghamdi, the Kindgom aims to rank among the top 15 nations for AI by 2030, it will train 20,000 data and AI specialists and experts and it will grow an ecosystem of 300 active data and AI startups. He also urged participants in the virtual event to challenge themselves, to think and work together, and to shape the future of AI together for the good of humanity.

Formed last year, with a mandate to drive the national data and AI agenda, the SDAIA developed a national AI strategy which was approved by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in August 2020. No details of the National Strategy for Data & AI were shared until today.

According to an official SDAIA statement, the NSDAI will roll-out a multi-phase plan that both addresses urgent requirements for the next five years and contributes to Vision 2030 strategic development goals. In the short term, the strategy will aim to accelerate the use of AI in education, energy, government, healthcare and mobility sectors.

Saudi National Strategy for Data & AI goals
Source: Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA)

Six strategic areas have been identified in the NSDAI:

  • Ambition – positioning Saudi Arabia as a global leader and enabler for AI, with a goal of ranking among the first 15 countries in AI by 2030.
  • Skills – transforming the Saudi workforce and skilling-up talent, with a target of creating 20,000 AI and Data specialists and experts by 2030.
  • Policy & regulation – developing a world-class regulatory framework, including for the ethical use of data and AI that will underpin open data and economic growth.
  • Investment – attracting FDI and local investment into the data and AI sector, with a goal of securing a total of $20 billion (SAR 75b) in investments.
  • Research and innovation – the NSDAI will also drive the development of research and innovation institutions in data and AI, with an objective of the Kingdom ranking among the top 20 countries in the world for peer reviewed data and AI publications.
  • Digital ecosystem – the new national AI strategy also aims to drive the commercialization and industry application of data and AI, creating an ecosystem with at least 300 AI and data startups by the year 2030.

Over the past year, SDAIA has established three specialised centres of expertise: the National Information Center, the National Data Management Office and the National Center for AI. It has also begun building perhaps the largest government data cloud in the region, merging 83 data centres owned by over 40 Saudi government bodies. More than 80 percent of government datasets have so far been consolidated under a national data bank.

The formation of the SDAIA follows the adoption of the government’s ‘ICT Strategy 2023‘ in 2018, which aims to transform the kingdom into a digital and technological powerhouse. The government identified technology as a key driver for its Vision 2030 blueprint for economic and social reform. Digitisation and artificial intelligence are seen as key enablers of the wide-ranging reforms.

Artrificial intelligence, big data and IoT are also pivotal for the massive $500 billion smart city, Neom, announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017. Infrastructure work on the 26,000 square kilometre city began earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the authority has been using AI to identify opportunities for improving the Kingdom’s government processes, which may result in some $10 billion in government savings and additional revenues.

More than fifty government officials and global AI leaders are speaking at this week’s Global AI Summit, which takes place today and tomorrow. The online event coincides with the year of Saudi’s presidency of the G20.

Download the National Strategy for Data & AI Strategy Narrative – October 2020 (PDF)

Watch the NSDAI promotion video from the Global AI Summit (Youtube)

Updated 23 October 2020

September 5, 2020

The Saudi national artificial intelligence strategy is to be launched at the Global AI Summit, which will now take place virtually from 21-22 October*, according to a statement from the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) on Friday. It was disclosed in August that the national AI strategy presented by the authority (since named the National Strategy for Data & AI) had been approved by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. PWC has forecast that AI could contribute $135 billion (or 12.4%) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by the year 2030.

Established by royal decree in August 2019, the SDAIA was given the mandate to drive the national data and AI agenda for transforming the country into a leading data-driven economy, and has developed Saudi Arabia’s national AI strategy over the past year. Although the details of the plan have been kept under wraps, the new strategy is expected to contribute to 66 of the country’s strategic goals, which are directly or indirectly related to data and AI.

The SDAIA has already reached a number of milestones since its inception, establishing three specialised centres of expertise: the National Information Center, the National Data Management Office and the National Center for AI. It has also begun building one of the largest data clouds in the region by merging 83 data centres owned by over 40 Saudi government bodies. More than 80 percent of government datasets have so far been consolidated under a national data bank.

Meanwhile, the authority has been using AI to identify opportunities for improving the Kingdom’s government processes, which may result in some $10 billion in government savings and additional revenues.

Originally slated for March 2020, the Global AI Summit will discuss AI, its applications, impact on social and economic development, plus global challenges and opportunities. The event aims to connect key decision makers from government and public sector, academia, industry and enterprise, tech firms, investors, entrepreneurs and startups.

October’s virtual summit will be organised into four tracks:

    • Shaping the new normal;
    • AI and governments;
    • Governing AI; and
    • The future of AI.

The Global AI Summit aims to tackle the challenges faced by countries around the world, from technical to ethical. Details of the agenda and speaker platform for the Global AI Summit have yet to be announced, although the presentation of the Saudi national artificial intelligence strategy is bound to be a highlight.

*Updated 17 September 2020

Also read: Saudi national AI strategy announced with investment target of $20 billion – 21 October 2020

August 16, 2020

The Indonesia National AI Strategy, now known as Stranas K.A. (Strategi Nasional Kecerdasan Artifisial), has been published. The new strategy was announced by the Minister of Research and Technology and head of the BRIN (the National Research and Innovation Agency) Bambang PS Brodjonegoro in an television address made last Monday to mark the country’s 25th National Technology Awakening Day. The minister also launched an electronic innovation catalogue, helping Indonesian technology developers to market their offerings and sell to government procurement offices.

Transforming Indonesia into a Fourth Industrial Revolution economy has become focus for the government over the past few years and the necessity of creating a digital-savvy workforce has become a top priority. Stranas K.A. aims to tie together many of the country’s digital initiatives and maps closely to Visi Indonesia 2045, the country’s broad economic, social, governance and technology development strategy. The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy Framework provides an at-a-glance view of how these different goals are held in context.

Stranas K.A. aims to support five national priorities, where the government believes that artificial intelligence could have the biggest impact on national progress and outcomes.

Health services – With 268 million people living across 6,000 of Indonesia’s total 17,504 islands, delivering a consistent standard of healthcare is a national challenge. The archipelago also faces increased risks from global disease outbreaks such as SARS and, recently, Covid-19. The country’s response to the pandemic has already somewhat accelerated plans for smart hospitals and health security infrastructure.

Bureaucractic reform – With a civilian civil service of about 4 million, reforming the government’s highly centralised administration remains a significant challenge. Indonesia is lagged in implementation of digital services, according to the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI), ranking below Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. President Joko Widodo has promised to create a citizen-centric digitised service government (Pemerintahan Digital Melayani) in the next five years.

Education and research – Education is integral to Visi Indonesia 2045 and the move towards online schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the country’s digital divide. The pressures of the digital economy are also recognised by development plans. According to the government, Indonesia needs a digital workforce of 113 million by 2030-2035.

Food security – According to President Widodo, food security remains Indonesia’s top priority and the Food Security Agency focuses on three main areas: food availability, food accessibility and food utilisation. Food, agriculture and fisheries government departments and agencies have already begun using satellite technology, machine learning and smart farming to better plan, forecast and manage agricultural production and natural resources.

Mobility and smart cities – The number of people living in Indonesia’s urban areas is now close to 60 percent and is expected to rise to 70 percent of the total population by the year 2050. The government currently plans to develop 98 smart cities and 416 smart districts, under Indonesia’s 100 Smart Cities Plan.

Indonesia National AI Strategy, August 2020

Meanwhile, the Indonesia national AI strategy identifies four key focus areas:

    1. Ethics and Policy
    2. Talent Development
    3. Infrastructure and Data
    4. Industrial Research and Innovation

Indonesia is already one of South East Asia’s biggest investors in artificial intelligence, with IDC’s 2018 Asia-Pacific Enterprise Cognitive/AI survey finding that 25 percent of large organisations in the country have adopted AI systems (compared with 17% in Thailand, 10% in Singapore and 8% in Malaysia).

Smart cities, one of Stranas K.A.’s five top priority areas, have been identified as a fundamental building block for Indonesia’s Industry 4.0 future. Last year President Widodo announced plans to create a new futuristic smart city capital on the island of Borneo, to replace Jakarta. The new capital will rely heavily on sustainable smart city systems, cleantech and infrastructure run by emerging technologies such as 5G, AI and IoT (Internet of Things). Originally slated for completion by 2024 (pre-pandemic) and estimated to cost $33 billion, the project reportedly received an offer by Japanese multinational investor SoftBank Group to invest up to $40 billion.

The Indonesia National AI Strategy details a programme roadmap for both its four key focus areas and the five national priorities, for which it considers plans as short-term (2020-2024) and longer-term (2025-2045). All in all, the strategy document identifies 186 programmes, including many that aim to develop the plans, pilot schemes, policies and regulations, plus checks and balances, necessary to drive the overall strategy.

Underpinning the acceleration of Indonesia’s artificial intelligence journey, Stranas K.A. includes plans for national standards, regulations and an ethics board to ensure that usage of AI is in accordance with the country’s Pancasila values system.

The development of the 194-page National Artificial Intelligence Strategy was coordinated by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology or BPPT, a non-ministerial government agency under the coordination of the Ministry for Research and Technology, and was widely anticipated to be announced in July or August. A wide variety of public and private sector organisations contributed to the plan including government ministries, universities, industry associations and national telecom providers.

Although many of the programmes and initiatives detailed in the Indonesia National AI Strategy can be found in existing government strategies, plans and policy, Stranas K.A. is nevertheless highly ambitious. The success of the overall plan will likely rest heavily on how many of the foundation programmes it is able to get off the ground during the next 4-5 years.

August 12, 2020

The Saudi national AI strategy has been approved, according to comments made by Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) president, Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi this week. As reported by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Sunday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has approved the Saudi National Strategy for Data & Artificial Intelligence (NSDAI), which has been prepared over the past year by SDAIA.

According to Dr. Abdullah, the new strategy will enable government and private sector programmes to contribute towards the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Overall, the authority expects the new strategy to contribute to 66 of the country’s strategic goals, which are directly or indirectly related to data and AI.

SDAIA was established by Royal Order no. 74167 in August last year, giving the authority the mandate to drive the national data and AI agenda for transforming the country into a leading data-driven economy. The decree also ordered the authority to establish three specialised centres of expertise: the National Information Center, the National Data Management Office and the National Center for AI.

Speaking at the launch of the SDAIA’s new brand identity in March, Dr. Abdullah talked of an ambitious and innovative Saudi national AI strategy that would optimise national resources, improving efficiencies and enabling the creation of diversified economic sectors. However, no details of the plan have yet been shared publicly.

The SDAIA has already been using AI applications to analyse government processes and procedures, with its initial assessment being that the opportunities identified could generate more than $10 billion in government savings and additional revenues.

The authority has also established a national data bank consolidating more than 80 percent of government datasets (or 30 percent of total government digital assets) and has rolled-out a G-Cloud (or Government-Cloud) aimed at building one of the largest data clouds in the region through the merger of 83 data centres owned by over 40 Saudi government bodies.

According to a 2017 study by PWC on the global impact of artificial intelligence, AI could contribute $135 billion (12.4%) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by the year 2030, being the second-highest predicted share for the contribution of AI to GDP in the Middle East region after the UAE.

The timing of the national AI strategy approval comes just a few weeks in advance of the planned Global AI Summit organised by the SDAIA, which is currently scheduled to take place in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, 14-15 September.

Updated 16.57 hrs 12 August 2020

Also read: Saudi national AI strategy announced with investment target of $20 billion – 21 October 2020