In fact, AI has become the single most disruptive digital technology for CIOs globally, according to Gartner’s 2019 “CIO Agenda” survey. Seventy-seven percent of ANZ CIOs said they already used AI technology for functions such as process automation (32%), chatbots (26%), and computer-assisted diagnostics (21%), the study found. And 27% said they expected AI to be the most disruptive technology this year, replacing data and analytics, which came in second at 22%.
Sales of AI-powered technology are also increasing rapidly. APAC spending on AI systems is forecast to reach $US4.6 billion in 2021, while adoption of AI technologies is predicted to grow by 47% between 2016 and 2022, according to another recent report on global AI uptake.
AI In Action
APAC business leaders across multiple industries are not only recognizing AI’s potential as a catalyst for change, for both operational efficiency and customer experience, but they’re also putting the technology to work.
At Sydney-based investment manager AMP Capital, AI has become an essential part of the company’s digital investment strategy. Its biggest potential lies in data dissemination to personalise content, said Tim Keegan, global head of marketing, digital, innovation, and direct.
“AI can enable the shift from a segmented approach, to product design, to delivering individual customer solutions at scale,” he told CMO by Adobe.
To this end, AMP Capital is making significant investments in AI and partnering with AI-focused vendors.
“Our aim is to be AI-ready across the enterprise,” Keegan said. “We are currently using AI in a range of pilot activities on top of our initial process automation investment. This includes sales and marketing analytics and supporting portfolio managers in their investment decisions. It is early days, but the results are encouraging.”
AI is also making headway in the real-estate industry, said Andrew Clowes, ANZ CIO of global real estate services provider Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).
“Much of what we do centres around leasing and lease arrangements. AI technology has greatly expedited what we call lease abstraction, where legal documents need to take a range of things into account, such as renewal periods and pricing options across a range of disparate locations,” Clowes told CMO by Adobe.
Machine learning with predictive analytics tools is also becoming more common in the property sector because they can incorporate vast amounts of data and analytics with up-to-data pricing from property experts to reveal as accurate a valuation as possible, Clowes explained.
For example, JLL has developed what it calls an AVM (automated valuation model), which leverages artificial intelligence for algorithms to arrive at a fair valuation for a property based on a range of factors, including location, rental and lease history, and equivalent valuations for similar properties.
“These processes used to take far longer than they do now,” Clowes said.
The telecommunications sector is realizing such efficiencies, as well. According to Simon Smith, former CIO of telecommunications company Vocus, AI has moved from a buzzword to a fundamental link in the IT chain.
“AI is making rapid advances in areas such as network congestion,” said Smith, who is now a leading adviser in the technology space for ANZ enterprises. “In the past, such issues would be resolved by the manual rerouting of network resources and a lot of trial and error. Nowadays, AI can disseminate vast amounts of data quickly to pinpoint the source of the congestion and change topography in real time using what we refer to as software-defined networking.”
‘The Bus Is Coming’
As AI works its way into enterprises industrywide, AMP Capital’s Keegan cautioned that the tech should be complementary to, rather than core, to any decision-making process.
“Our business relies on humans understanding customer needs and delivering great investment outcomes,” he said. “AI can support the outcomes, but human expertise will always be central to our value proposition.”
In the real-estate sector, AI has barely scratched the surface, JLL’s Clowes said.
“Companies such as ours understand that the bus is coming, and we don’t want to be left behind,” he said. “The really exciting thing is the way that AI can be used in conjunction with technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality to provide 3D models of industrial facilities or shopping centres, for example.”
This enables real-estate companies to “draw on vast amounts of data and what we call geospacial analysis to factor in logistics and infrastructure costs, ongoing upkeep, and life cycle costs that affect ROI,” Clowes explained. “Crunching those numbers requires advanced machine learning, and AI is already proving to be a game changer.”
Smith was equally excited about AI’s future across the entire economy, but especially in the world of telecommunications.
“Ten years ago we didn’t even have iPhones, and the rate of change over the next decade will accelerate possibly fivefold over the last,” he said. “That means things such as the often-talked-about driverless cars, as well as semi-autonomous robots cooking and cleaning around the house, to name just a couple of likely innovations. The only thing holding us back will be policies, standards, and workable ethical frameworks.”;