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Chasing Asia’s AI Dream

With over half the world’s population, over one-third of the world’s economic output, aggressive government policies,...

4 Minutes Read

With over half the world’s population, over one-third of the world’s economic output, aggressive government policies, a freedom from legacy assets and an abundance of data, Asia-Pacific has everything it needs to become a hotbed of artificial intelligence (AI) adoption and innovation. For instance, the region accounts for around 45% of global mobile traffic and will account for over 53% of the global Internet population by 2020, generating the huge volumes of data necessary to feed AI systems. That’s how China’s 730 million Internet users—the largest number of users for any country in the world and equivalent to almost the entire population of Europe—are fueling the Chinese government’s dream of becoming an AI leader. Some market estimates claim that AI will produce an economic profit in Asia-Pacific of between US$1.8 trillion and US$3 trillion a year by 2030. Asia’s AI dream gets bigger every day.

Companies both large and small are busy chasing the AI dream. My recent research shows that 95% of Asia-Pacific companies surveyed cited AI as the number one driver of business change in the next five years. AI is quickly evolving to suit many types of practical, everyday uses, such as mobile communications, driving, shopping, information searching and deliveries. As Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired has said, “Over time, AI will not seem any more unusual than electricity, cars, airplanes, the Internet and other major transformative technologies. Everything that we formerly electrified we will now cognitize.” The commercial aspect of AI is becoming stronger now. Companies are determined to achieve their AI dreams because they believe that AI’s ‘magic’ will super-charge profitability and create unimaginable productivity. It seems that if you don’t have an algorithm on your road map, you will quickly become irrelevant.

Unfortunately, chasing an AI dream is like chasing a rainbow—it’s a magical adventure full of hope and promise, but you never know where the adventure’s going to end. There’s a lot of playing field between today’s reality and what lies ahead. Despite the excitement around AI in Asia-Pacific, only 35% of organizations are fully prepared to handle future work driven by AI, and only 42% are confident about their ability to integrate AI with existing business processes. As with any major business change or technology cycle, discretion is the better part of valor. There’s a lot of groundwork, preparation and changes involved in terms of skills, workforce strategy, culture, technology, data management, and processes. Not to mention the potential displacement and redefinition of jobs and tasks that comes with the introduction of AI.

To achieve their AI dreams, Asia-Pacific businesses will have to embrace the five Ts: re-imagine tasks, restructure teams, remix talent, reinvent IT infrastructure, and reestablish trust among employees and with AI systems. Check out my two-minute video for a quick overview of the importance of implementing the five Ts in your organization.

Chasing the AI dream is an adventure that promises to be full of change, disruption, opportunity and risk and can be overwhelming for many leaders. Whether or not you find your pot of gold under the rainbow will depend on how you choose to pursue your dreams. If you remember to do self-appraisals, eliminate detractors and rise to every occasion with alacrity, sticking to your AI dream all the way to the end will be as easy as finding a three-leaf clover.


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