Almost all Singapore firms keen on AI but only 13% fully ready to deploy

Only 13% of organisations in Singapore are fully prepared to deploy and leverage artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technologies, according to Cisco’s inaugural AI Readiness Index. 

The Index is based on a double-blind survey of 8,161 private sector business and IT leaders across 30 markets, including Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States ,and Vietnam. 

Conducted by an independent third-party surveying respondents from companies with 500 or more employees, the study assessed respondents’ AI readiness across six key pillars — strategy, infrastructure, data, talent, governance, and culture.

Based on their overall score, Cisco has identified four groups at different levels of organisational readiness – Pacesetters (fully prepared), Chasers (moderately prepared), Followers (limited preparedness), and Laggards (unprepared). 

The new research finds that while AI adoption has been slowly progressing for decades, the advancements in generative AI, coupled with public availability in the past year, are driving greater attention to the challenges, changes and new possibilities posed by the technology. 

While 80% of respondents believe AI will have a significant impact on their business operations, it also raises new issues around data privacy and security. 

Findings show that companies experience the most challenges when it comes to leveraging AI alongside their data. In fact, 84% of respondents admit that this is due to data existing in silos across their organisations.

However, there is also positive news. Findings from the Index revealed that companies in Singapore are taking many proactive measures to prepare for an AI-centric future. 

When it came to building AI strategies, 96% of organisations already have a robust AI strategy in place or are in the process of developing one. Nearly two thirds (64%) of organisations are classified as either Pacesetters or Chasers (fully/partially prepared), with 6% falling into the category of Laggards (not prepared). 

This indicates a significant level of focus by C-Suite executives and IT leadership. This could be driven by the fact that a majority of the respondents (95%) said the urgency to deploy AI technologies in their organisation has increased in the past six months, with IT infrastructure and cybersecurity reported as the top priority areas for AI deployments.

“While AI is fundamentally transforming the business landscape in the region, organizations’ intentions of adopting and leveraging AI are far outpacing their abilities to do so according to our inaugural AI Readiness Index,” said Bee Kheng Tay, president of Cisco ASEAN. 

Tay said more can be done by organisations to actively bridge the gaps across the six key business pillars to fully leverage the potential of AI. 

“From ensuring their IT infrastructure is in a future-ready state to putting in place a comprehensive change management plan, organisations should prioritise a multi-faceted approach to boost their overall AI readiness and stay ahead of the game,” said Tay.

The study also found that 59% of respondents in Singapore believe they have a maximum of one year to implement an AI strategy before their organisation begins to incur significant negative business impact.

Networks aren’t equipped to meet AI workloads. Indeed, 95% of businesses globally are aware that AI will increase infrastructure workloads, but in Singapore only 29% of organisations consider their infrastructure highly scalable.