Thursday, 21 November 2019 01:19

Australian companies set sights on investment in artificial intelligence Featured

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Australian companies set sights on investment in artificial intelligence Image COOLDESIGN, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The vast majority of Australian companies recently surveyed have their sights set on artificial intelligence investment, with increasing employee productivity a key focus for AI investments.

That’s according to the findings of the study undertaken by global enterprise applications company, IFS, which found that 90 percent of Australian business leaders, and their counterparts globally, reported at least some plans to implement AI in various parts of their business.

Inventory planning and logistics was the most commonly reported area of investment in Australia with 54 percent planning AI projects (39 percent globally), while customer relationship management (CRM) was second at 46 percent, and 39 percent globally.

And globally, industrial automation was the most common area of AI investment at 45 percent compared to just 28 percent in Australia.

The study - “How are Companies Planning to Adopt Artificial Intelligence and Adjust to Resulting Disruptive Change” polled 600 business leaders in countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, UK and the US and a broad spectrum of industries involved with their companies’ enterprise technology including enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM), and field service management (FSM).

Other key findings of the IFS research included:

  • When asked how they plan to use AI, 57 percent in Australia (61 percent globally) said they expected it would help them make existing workers more productive.
  • Less than half, 39 percent in Australia (48 percent globally), said they would use AI to add value to products and services they sell to customers. About 29 percent in Australia (18 percent globally) also said they would proactively use it to replace existing workers.
  • While a majority of respondents anticipated productivity increases from AI, only 21 percent in Australia - and 29 percent globally - anticipated AI would lead to a reduction in headcount in their industry.
  • To manage this, 57 percent of Australian respondents (56 percent globally) stated that society could best prepare by changing educational programs to prepare workers to make direct use of AI tools to increase their own productivity.
  • Another 29 percent (23 percent globally) said they expect the market to create new jobs for people displaced by AI, while 11 percent (15 percent globally) suggested a shortened 30-hour work week.

“AI is no longer an emerging technology. It is being implemented to support business automation in the here and now, as this study clearly proves,” IFS VP of AI and RPA Bob De Caux said.

“We are seeing many real-world examples where technology is augmenting existing decision-making processes by providing users with more timely, accurate and pertinent information.

“In today’s disruptive economy, the convergence of technologies such as AI, RPA, and IoT is bolstering a new form of business automation that will provide companies that are brave enough with the tools and services they need to be more competitive and outflank larger competitors.”

An early adopter of industrial automation solutions that make use of robotics to transform its business strategy is leading North American packaging manufacturer Cheer Pack, who deployed a fleet of AI-powered autonomous vehicles to robotise material movements in its US factory and has already seen strong returns on the investment.

Cheer Pack Director of IT, Alex Ivkovic noted, “We expect the costs savings to be over 1.5 million US dollars per year. In addition, each and every employee will be re-tasked to a higher-skilled position helping us with our labour shortage.”

And De Caux said the findings of the study and the real-world scenarios being realised at IFS’ customers point to the conclusion that the time is right for companies to reap both business and financial benefits from technology automation.”

“Falling for the hype of AI is easy, but success requires disruption to existing business models. The technologies themselves are not a panacea, nor are they a universal solution to any problem,”

However, with the right data model and viable use cases, AI can support improved productivity and deliver significant benefits to both operations and the wider business. AI will be used by the vast majority of organisations in some form in the near future, extracting real value from intelligent processes, for the long-term,” de Caux concluded.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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