Dearth of talent hobbles APAC firms’ lead in AI adoption

Companies in the Asia-Pacific region have a higher degree of confidence that artificial intelligence will play a bigger role in their businesses going forward than their counterparts in North America or Europe, according to Juniper Networks.

Juniper conducted in January a global survey of 700 IT decision makers — including 100 from APAC — with direct involvement in their organisation’s AI and/or machine learning plans or actual deployments.

Findings show that 99% of APAC respondents feel their organisation would benefit from the embedding of AI into their daily operations, products and services. 

Also, 42% of respondents reported that 50% or more of their operational decisions are currently assisted by AI decisioning, or will be soon, compared with only 23% of respondents in North America.

Customer service is reported as the most common business area currently using AI. This has helped to drive broader acceptance and trust, while also accelerating AI adoption and fueling the demand for employees who are skilled in AI development. 

With digital technology tangibly benefiting the way enterprises and individuals operate in the region, respondents in Asia (71%) are more open to seeing AI as their co-worker of the future than in North America (54%).

The report also shows that respondents are looking to overcome challenges in several areas. One area is that of AI-ready technology stacks. There is a need for stronger infrastructure – including data, cloud and networking capabilities – and talent to work with AI systems, as more than half of executives (74%) are likely to collect telemetry data to enhance AI to improve user experience.

Another area is workforce readiness, as 48% of APAC respondents’ organisations are struggling with preparing and expanding their workforce to integrate with AI systems.

Third is AI governance, with 75% of APAC respondents reporting that AI has been identified as a priority by their organization’s leadership team for their fiscal year 2021 strategic plan and 87% of executives agree cross-functional executive sponsorship and involvement is critical for AI to integrate into their products and services.

The survey revealed sales and marketing, as well as finance and accounting, are the most common business areas where organisations are currently using AI, with positive changes like operational efficiencies and enhanced user experience being seen. 

“From chatbots in customer service, to discovering new areas of operational efficiencies, and intelligent networking solutions that facilitate seamless transition between devices, these use cases define what it means to work in an experience-first era,” said Ang Thiam Guan, Juniper VP and general manager in APAC.

“A right mix of talent, AI-driven technology and IT governance will provide business leaders with the foundation to build an agile, digital-centric workforce who are ready to embrace change and deliver exceptional experiences for their business, customers and communities,” said Ang.