Asia’s path: From AI hype to business resilience

Though artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for decades, the introduction of ChatGPT in late 2022 has propelled this technology to the forefront over the past year. After a period of exploration and excitement surrounding AI, 2024 is poised to witness a substantial transformation as businesses transition from mere hype to the practical implementation of AI technologies.

The telecoms industry, in particular, has delivered concrete applications for network performance optimisation and predictive maintenance using AI technologies. Cutting-edge organisations have streamlined existing processes, automated labour-intensive admin tasks, and fortified customer experiences.

Amid prevailing economic uncertainties, businesses are resolutely channelling investments into technological advancements, namely AI, connectivity technologies, and other emerging technologies, to fortify their operations and establish resilience against potential disruptions. In fact, Goldman Sachs’ projection that global AI investment will reach US$200 billion by 2025 underscores the steadfast commitment to this pursuit.

Consequently, as cutting-edge technologies like AI continue to integrate more deeply across pivotal aspects such as business operations, customer engagement, and talent management, businesses must carefully consider the tangible impacts of transitioning from AI hype to reality. This strategic shift is essential for achieving sustainable business growth and resilience as organisations expand their global footprint.

Impact of AI integration on businesses

AI has emerged as a transformative force, revolutionising the way businesses operate, make decisions, and engage with customers and employees. The deeper integration of AI into three critical business facets — operations, customer engagement, and talent management — has streamlined processes, enhanced efficiency, and yielded real-time insights for decision-making.

Nearly one-third (29%) of APAC CIOs have admitted they struggle to hire high-value knowledge workers essential for their global expansion plans, as revealed in Expereo’s Enterprise Horizon report. AI could play a pivotal role in overcoming these challenges, offering data-driven insights for recruitment and enhancing employee experiences. Similarly, AI has the potential to reshape customer engagement, enabling more personalised interactions and leveraging predictive analytics to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The imperative for continued investments in digital infrastructure

To fully harness the potential of AI, businesses must prioritise investments in robust and reliable digital infrastructure. Without adequate investment, the seamless integration of technologies like AI into business operations would be severely compromised, potentially putting organisations at a disadvantage against the competition.

Key areas of investment include enhanced network connectivity, robust cybersecurity measures, and the adoption of AI-enabled applications and technologies, especially in relation to telecommunications. For example, AI can identify potential issues in telecom network operations, enabling operators to proactively resolve those issues, thereby reducing downtime and improving overall service quality.

The great news here: our research has found that half of CIOs globally, as well as in Asia-Pacific (48%), have secured increased technology budgets specifically to deliver growth and overcome existing challenges in these areas. Additionally, 39% of APAC CIOs indicated that their board views global connectivity as a business asset critical to growth.

While building such digital capabilities in-house is a formidable task with potentially high initial costs, partnering with vendors that possess relevant capabilities could offer cost savings for businesses. This may enable them to gain a competitive advantage and increase efficiency in the long run.

Businesses must also be mindful of the potential challenges associated with developing and sustaining the necessary digital infrastructure. Achieving sustainable business growth in the long run will demand a proactive and responsible approach to addressing these considerations.

Balancing sustainability and business growth

The imperative to balance sustainability with growth is now more critical than ever. Businesses need to explore strategies that align sustainability goals with growth pursuits. The increased integration of AI in business operations also necessitates addressing the potential environmental and ethical implications associated with AI implementation.

As datasets and models become more complex, the energy required to train and run AI models increases, directly impacting greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbating climate change. Therefore, businesses must prioritise responsible and sustainable ways to implement AI, considering the long-term effects on the environment and society.

For telecommunications operators, one example is deploying smarter networks that can automatically adjust capacity to meet predicted demand, thus also impacting total energy consumption. In combination with AI-driven diagnostics to handle routine tasks, Scope 1 emissions can be reduced, given that network maintenance teams potentially spend less time on-site.

Anticipating the future

The deeper integration of AI in 2024 marks a pivotal juncture for businesses. It will require a proactive and responsible approach to harnessing the benefits of AI to mitigate potential risks. By navigating the complexities of AI integration and digital infrastructure development, businesses can position themselves for sustainable growth and resilience amid the evolving economic and technological landscapes.