Artificial Intelligence to nearly double the rate of innovation in Singapore by 2021

Image courtesy of Conor Luddy

By 2021, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will allow the rate of innovation and employee productivity improvements in Singapore to nearly double (X1.9 times and X1.7, respectively), according to business leaders in Singapore. The study from Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific, Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential Through AI surveyed over 104 business leaders and over 102 workers in Singapore.

While more than 80% of business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organization’s competitiveness, only 59% of organizations in Singapore have embarked on their AI journeys. Those organizations that have adopted AI expect it to increase their competitiveness 1.7 times by 2021.

“Today, every company is a software company, and increasingly, every interaction is digital. To be successful in this new world, organisations need to be a fast adopter of best-in-class technology; and secondly, they need to build their own unique digital capabilities,” said Kevin Wo, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore. “AI is the defining technology of our time that significantly accelerates business transformation, enables innovation, boosts employee productivity, and ensures further growth.  Economies and businesses that have yet to embark on their AI journey run a real risk of missing out on the competitive benefits that are enjoyed by leaders.”

Why adopt AI?

For the organizations that have implemented AI initiatives, the top five business drivers to adopt the technology were (in priority order): Better customer engagement (32% of respondents named it as the number one driver); higher competitiveness (19%); accelerated innovation (16%); higher margins (15%); and more productive employees (6%). Victor Lim, Vice President, Consulting Operations, IDC Asia/Pacific said: “Last year, organizations that have adopted AI saw tangible improvements in those areas in the range of 16% to 26%. They forecast further improvements of at least 1.6 times in the three-year horizon, with the biggest jump expected in accelerated innovation.”

Singapore needs to build on infrastructure

The study evaluated six dimensions critical to ensuring the success of a nation’s AI journey. It uncovered that Singapore needs to build upon its infrastructure in order to accelerate its AI journey.

“Singapore is not ready yet for AI. To succeed in AI race, markets in the region need to substantially improve their readiness.  Organisations’ leadership should make AI a core part of their strategy and develop a learning agility culture. They have to continuously invest in this transformative technology for the long-term success, sometimes without immediate returns,” Lim said. “There is an urgent need for talents and tools to develop, deploy and monitor AI models, along with the availability of a robust data estate with the adequate governance.”

Business leaders who are adopting AI face three top challenges: a lack of thought leadership and leadership commitment to invest in AI; a lack of tools and infrastructure to develop actionable insights; and a lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programs. The study showed that to move ahead on their AI journeys businesses have to create the right organisational culture. More than half of the business leaders and workers surveyed believe that cultural traits that support AI journeys, such as risk-taking, proactive innovation, as well as cross-function partnerships among teams, are not pervasive today.

Business leaders must now embrace a new culture, where innovation and continuous learning are core components of the organisational culture. It sets the stage for agility, adaptability and growth,” said Wo.