a worker using smart devices to operate machinery

APAC businesses are transitioning into an AI-driven business model. Source: Shutterstock

Transitioning into an AI-driven world

HUMANS are beginning to see artificial intelligence (AI) entering into their daily work life in the form of automation and algorithms.

In fact, 82 percent of businesses in the Asia Pacific (APAC) identified intelligent machines as having the largest impact on work in the next five years.

More than just recognizing the implications of using intelligent machines in their operations, business leaders must understand how to embrace AI to improve productivity, profitability, and engagement.

The figures were highlighted in a recent report by Cognizant. According to the report, APAC is well-suited for gaining the maximum benefits of AI, thanks to favorable government AI-related policies, the lack of cumbersome legacy assets, and a wealth of data.

The report additionally highlighted that businesses in APAC are planning to spend nearly 15 percent of their revenue on building and managing intelligent machines.

In fact, IDC expects the region to spend up to US$1 billion by the end of this year, with projections showing that businesses could spend up to US$5 billion by 2021.

An increasing in AI spend is hardly surprising. According to Accenture, the impact of AI on work can help boost labor productivity by up to 40 percent. This is driven mainly by changes in the way work is done, as well as reinforcements in the role of people to drive growth in business.

However, it can be confusing for businesses to navigate the AI landscapre. A global study by BCG noted that while 87 percent of respondents said they plan to implement AI in production within the next three years, only 28 percent have established a comprehensive implementation roadmap.

For businesses to reap maximum benefits, Cognizant highlighted five key points that are critical for a smooth transition into the age of intelligent robots.

Teams: Management of workforce, workflows, workspace, and culture will change with the introduction of AI. Keeping the team small and flexible is important. While some companies are looking at integrating AI into existing workforce strategy and planning, it can be equally as beneficial to develop a new workforce strategy in parallel with existing strategies.

Tasks: Day to day responsibilities won’t be fully driven by machines or humans – instead, it will require inputs from both parties. Deconstruct tasks to identify which areas draw on the strengths of humans (or machines), then assign accordingly.

Talents: With almost three-quarters of respondents quoting difficulty in finding the right candidates for the job, the lack of talents will remain a headache for companies. Businesses should focus more on fundamental attributes and behaviors than on technical skills. For example, introducing role modeling, psychologist-led skills assessments, mentoring, and a work environment that prioritizes and rewards human skills.

Technology: IT infrastructure will have to be ready for an AI-first world be being agile, responsive, flexible, secure, scalable, and simple to transition. Beyond AI, augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) will also enable workers to collaborate better through a simple and intuitive interface.

Trust: Building trust between employees isn’t the same as trusting the machine to perform well. Two-thirds of respondents in the survey are more concerned about the currently unknown consequences of machine failures. Businesses should provide plenty of training on using AI systems, focusing on self-regulation based on openness and accountability, while prioritizing the need to maintain consumer trust.