The heart of innovation: How empathy is shaping technology

Innovation is sweeping across every sector of the Middle East economy, propelled by the advent of cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and digital twins, unlocking new possibilities and radically transforming traditional business models.

However, if I had to pick one key term that has significantly impacted the martech sector, it would be ‘humanised.’ Transcending its descriptor status, the term has become a defining metric for the success of almost every contemporary innovation.

A new paradigm for brand growth

It was only time before technology was humanised, evolving over time to align with the broader development of user-centred design and technology that emphasises empathy, user experience, and emotional intelligence.

Humanised technology brings a multitude of benefits, forging a deeper connection between users and digital interfaces. Infusing empathy and understanding into technology enhances user experience, making interactions more intuitive and satisfying.

Furthermore, humanised technology can significantly improve accessibility, catering to a broader audience with diverse needs and preferences. It transforms technology from a mere functional entity into a relatable and empathetic companion, aligning seamlessly with human emotions and behaviours.

In the GCC, where social media ad spending is projected to reach $1.6 billion by 2028 — with the UAE considered the social media capital — humanised technology is not just a trend but a strategic necessity for brand development, characterised by rapid technological adoption and a digitally literate population.

Moreover, initiatives like the Dubai Digital Cloud and Saudi Arabia’s Inclusive Government Program reflect the GCC’s commitment to enhancing digital infrastructure, catering to consumer demand for seamless digital experiences.

The humanised approach of MENA technology

Brands, therefore, must create user-friendly and culturally resonant digital experiences. This stands true across both private and public sectors. The UAE has been at the forefront of adopting humanising technology, setting a benchmark in the region for integrating technological advancements with a human touch. AI71 is pioneering the practice, focusing on enhancing human capabilities through artificial intelligence.

Launched by Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council, AI71 aligns with this human-centric approach towards democratising AI technology, making it widely accessible and beneficial, particularly in healthcare, education, and legal sectors.

Meanwhile, G42, a prominent artificial intelligence and cloud computing company, integrates AI across various industries, including government, healthcare, finance, oil and gas, aviation, and hospitality.

Over from a private-sector perspective, Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, part of the larger Majid Al Futtaim Group focusing on bringing consumers unique and innovative lifestyle experiences, invested in cutting-edge digital infrastructure to enhance customer experiences and operational efficiency.

The emphasis on humanising technology, therefore, has become a cornerstone for brand growth, and companies and governments increasingly recognise the importance of creating technology that’s not only advanced but also resonates culturally and emotionally with their audience.

This shift involves crafting digital solutions that are intuitive, culturally aligned, and reflect the unique nuances of the region, ensuring a more profound and authentic connection with the tech-savvy consumers in these markets.

Such evolutions in the digital landscape are a testament to the power of technology infused with empathy and human insight. It’s a journey where brands are not just adopting digital tools but weaving them with the intricacies of human interaction towards ensuring a deeper connection with audiences and creating resonant experiences that are true to their core values and forward-looking in their vision.

By Nancy Assaad, Founder & CEO, The Marketing Boutique