AI outlays doubled in APAC amid rapid rev up in 2023

More than 70% of IT decision makers across the Asia-Pacific region including Japan (APJ) have advanced their artificial intelligence (AI) strategies beyond the ideation and proof-of-concept stages and are now transitioning to the initial phases of adoption. 

Results from the latest study by Foundry for AI by Rackspace (FAIR) revealed that nearly one-third of respondents have already successfully integrated AI into their business operations, highlighting 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) sponsored a survey conducted by Coleman Parkes in January and February 2024. Findings are based on the responses of 1,420 IT decision-makers across APJ. 

Most companies/organisations polled have from 1,000 to 9,999 employees and annual revenue between $50 million and $1 billion. 

According to the survey, 77% of APJ respondents indicate that they are achieving AI-readiness in terms of the adoption of AI and cloud platforms. This refers to implementing governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) processes to establish the guardrails for organisations to develop and deploy responsible AI solutions. 

Also, 77% of respondents indicated that they are AI-ready in terms of security and privacy. This refers to adopting responsible AI systems which are designed with zero-trust architecture principles, robust identity mechanisms, role-based access controls and cybersecurity protections. 

When asked where they currently are in their AI journey, nearly half of respondents reported being “operationally ready” for AI. 

Survey results indicated that cost reductions (60%) and the need to improve customer experience (60%), followed by greater employee productivity (58%) are the key influences driving AI/ML adoption within organisations. 

“The rapid integration of AI into business landscapes demands a shift from the ‘wait and see’ mentality of the past,” ” said Hemanta Banerjee, VP of public cloud data services at Rackspace Technology. 

“However, to truly harness its power, companies must adopt an iterative approach, constantly evaluating the (ROI) of their AI projects,” said Banerjee. 

Findings also reveal  a continued surge in AI investment, with companies anticipating doubling their budgets in 2024 as compared to 2023. 

Moreover, APJ respondents say their investments are yielding significant returns, with 86% reporting that their companies have seen tangible benefits from the implementation of AI. 

Among the leading use cases for AI/machine learning (ML) initiatives, APJ respondents highlighted efficiency as the primary motivation and advantage, with intelligent search (61%), document processing (59%), and fraud detection (54%) emerging as the leading applications. 

When asked about the driving force behind their company’s AI strategy, 54% of APJ respondents cited their IT departments as taking the lead. 

However, 43% of APJ respondents mentioned that customer service played a role in driving their AI strategies, while 48% reported involvement from functional departments such as marketing, sales, and finance. 

In addition, about half of all respondents also say they are achieving their goals in executive sponsorship of AI initiatives, business unit alignment strategic alignment and product management.  

Meanwhile, 55% of APJ respondents ranked cybersecurity as the biggest risk their organisation sees in AI adoption, while just 50% of respondents report that they follow data management and retention policies to manage compliance.  

Alongside security, ethics emerge as a key concern, with over half of APJ respondents considering the responsible and ethical use of AI as being a part of their approach to AI governance. The key considerations for what respondents considered to be “responsible AI’ were data privacy (60%), accountability (52%) and transparency (50%).  

Further, the survey revealed an ongoing shortage of AI skills, as 85% of APJ respondents have attempted to recruit people who have AI/ML skills. 

Key roles that APJ companies are looking to fill include software development (40%), ML (43%), data analysts (40%), data engineers (43%), and data governance and security specialists (38%). 

In response, 40% of companies currently offer formalised AI training/learning programs, with an additional 58% planning to develop such programs in the future.