How AI and skills will shape success for Singapore businesses

Recent breakthroughs in AI and data innovations have marked a watershed moment – not just for the technology industry, but for the rest of the world. Generative AI alone has shown potential to revolutionise several aspects of our professional and personal lives.

Generative AI is democratising access to deeper insights, allowing us to make more informed decisions more quickly. But how effectively are we using this technology and integrating it into our various customer engagements? In Singapore, research indicates that nearly three-quarters (72%) of knowledge workers are excited about using generative AI in their jobs. Despite growing awareness of how AI can fundamentally transform businesses in critical areas such as customer experiences, growth, and productivity, many lack the skills to use AI daily. In fact, only 15% of workers in Singapore use AI every day.

“With great power comes great responsibility”. This adage by Stan Lee aptly captures today’s AI landscape. It’s one thing to give people the keys to a car; it’s another to ensure they can drive skilfully.

In the same vein, businesses can equip the workforce in Singapore to unlock the potential of generative AI. This involves two key actions: enablement and empowerment. This means providing workers with the skills to use AI solutions that are becoming integral to everyday systems and giving them the confidence and tools to innovate and experiment.

Empowerment to stay relevant 

In a climate of rising costs and business complexities, empowering the workforce to drive innovation is crucial for operational efficiency and business relevance. It also makes businesses more attractive to customers and employees.

Leaders must cultivate a culture of innovation and experimentation to fully leverage the vast amounts of data their businesses generate. By experimenting with tools like generative AI app integrations and different language models, companies can unlock the power of real-time CRM and conversational data, making teams more productive and customer interactions more personalised

In many cases, AI serves as a virtual assistant that automates time-intensive tasks, helping to remove barriers for the workforce. Companies can use AI to automate mundane tasks, enable quicker service delivery, allow personalisation at scale, and boost productivity, rather than replacing jobs.

Is the focus merely on reducing operational friction, or could it make us more effective? This is akin to the shift from manual to automatic cars, making driving more accessible. By empowering workers with the right skills and confidence, organisations can unlock enormous potential and make a greater impact on customers, employees, and stakeholders.

In a world where companies are increasingly assessed based on the quality of their customer experiences, providing seamless and personalised journeys — and enhancing the skills of teams to enable rapid business adaptation — is essential for maintaining competitiveness.

Embedding skills-enablement into business strategy 

As we begin to inculcate a culture of learning and experimentation with AI, the technology will gradually become more mainstream in the workplace and dramatically shift how we solve the challenges we face daily. In healthcare, for example, automation will assist professionals in sorting through medical images to advise patients and diagnose conditions more efficiently. In manufacturing, AI can help to better manage logistics and supply chain challenges, such as recommending the most efficient movements and docking of cargo ships in and out of Singapore to boost port productivity and deliver faster service turnaround times.

This raises the question: Who should businesses focus on skilling up? Is it solely for those in high-ranking positions?

The short answer is that structured training programmes should be accessible to all employees. These programmes should cover both hard and soft skills necessary for effectively interacting with AI as a virtual assistant and fostering an AI-centric mindset. The majority of the workforce will engage with AI and generative AI technologies already integrated into daily work systems. Therefore, they need to comprehend the optimal methods for collaborating with AI, discern the specific use cases where AI is particularly effective and accurate, validate AI-generated responses, and identify potential red flags and their implications. For technical roles like machine learning engineers and data scientists, a more in-depth skill set is required, including proficiency in modern programming languages, software development methodologies, and data mining techniques, among others.

Before jumping on the bandwagon and indiscriminately offering AI training to everyone, it’s crucial for leaders to consider the specific skill sets that different roles require for effective AI interaction

Ethical considerations should also be at the forefront of AI implementation. While there is ongoing discussion about legislative measures to ensure ethical AI use, cultural awareness will ultimately be the deciding factor. A culture that prioritises doing the right thing is invaluable.

To build upon this, education is essential to advance this cultural shift. By understanding how AI can address various business priorities and pain points, companies can tailor their workforce development strategies. This ensures that AI is integrated thoughtfully and inclusively into daily operations, setting the stage for unlocking vast future opportunities with appropriate safeguards in place.

To maintain relevance in today’s competitive landscape, companies must cultivate a culture that encourages both curiosity about and innovative applications of AI. Vigilance in ethical AI use is equally important. Only by achieving this balanced approach will we fully realise the positive potential of AI in fuelling Singapore’s rapidly growing digital economy.