The majority of Australian business leaders have acknowledged the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) to their organisation’s competitiveness over the next three years, in a recent survey.
In the survey, titled Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential Through AI and produced by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific – just over 1600 business leaders, agreed AI will allow the rate of innovation improvements within their organisation to increase 1.5 times by 2021, while employee productivity gains are expected to increase by 1.6 times.
However, the study found only 14 per cent of Australian organisations had adopted AI as a core part of their business strategy to date, while 54 per cent have started to adopt AI. The numbers show many local organisations are lagging behind those in Asian countries.
According to the analysis, the key challenges facing Australian businesses in their adoption of AI are a lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programs (28 per cent); and a lack of leadership commitment to invest in AI (25 per cent).
About 56 per cent of business leaders said they would invest more in employee skills than in AI technology from an investment perspective. However, 60 per cent of business leaders have yet to take any steps to help their people acquire AI related skills.
A lack of time and not knowing what courses to take were cited as the two key reasons both business leaders and workers have yet to develop AI-related skills.
The study found Australian business leaders and workers generally holds positive views about AI’s impact on the future of work; with 63 per cent of business leaders and 51 per cent of workers agreeing AI will either help them do their existing jobs better or reduce repetitive tasks.
However there was some disconnect when it came to leadership and workers around the impact AI may have on jobs in the future. While 30 per cent of workers don’t believe AI will have any impact on their jobs, only 11 per cent of business leaders believe that to be the case.
Victor Lim, vice president, consulting operations, IDC Asia/Pacific said the lack of urgency in implementing training plans to help people acquire the necessary skills to succeed in an AI-enabled world, gives some cause for concern.
“To succeed with AI, Australian businesses need to substantially improve their AI readiness. Organisations should make AI a core part of their business strategies moving forward and continuously invest in this technology for long-term success, sometimes without immediate returns,” he said.
“There is an urgent need for talent and tools to develop, deploy and monitor AI models, along with the availability of a robust data estate with adequate governance,” Lim added.
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