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IBM Malaysia: AI craze to continue for the next three years

IBM Malaysia: AI craze to continue for the next three years

22 Dec 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) quickly grew to become one of the biggest buzzwords in tech in 2023 and it will continue to be the talk of the town for the next three years.

“Since May 2023, [press media] was really focused on what we call the AI transformation in business [being taken] by storm. We have seen many recent companies going through the forefront, racing through what we call it as generative AI (GenAI),” said Catherine Lian, managing director and technology leader of IBM Malaysia.

From microchip processors to technology trends, AI led most of the technological discussion for most of the year. On top of that, IBM shared in its media briefing an assessment that AI will reach a 3.5 times exponential growth globally by 2025.

As part of this assessment, Lian shared five key trends IBM identified moving forward into 2024 based on observations and interviews with CEOs and executives across industries.

The first key trend Lian shared was that organisations will be moving from a “plus AI” mindset into an “AI plus” one. This means that companies’ business policies will shift from thinking of AI as an afterthought to designing strategies around AI.

“For CEOs 75% believe that they’ll come to a competitive advantage [after] implementing AI,” said Lian. “Forty-three percent of the CEOs said that their enterprise is already generating AI strategic decisions, especially in their operations.”

Despite this increase in importance, Lian noted that in many company’s rush to adopt AI it can lead to disjointed strategies and wasteful spending as 60% of organisations do not have a consistent enterprise approach to adopting responsible GenAI AI use, which is needed to establish trust and care for stakeholders.

The second trend is that people who use AI will replace those that do not. This does not mean that AI will replace people, but rather that people who use AI to augment their work flow will replace those who stick to working without any AI assistance, as 87% of job roles are expected to be augmented by AI.

“In 2024, GenAI will impact virtually all organisational roles and levels. As GenAI matures, an increasing number of roles at all levels will be impacted by AI, bringing in new AI tools and applications.

“Eighty percent [of CEOs] believe that GenAI will fundamentally transform organisational workflow, [and] 28% have assessed the potential impact. Executives meanwhile, will need to reskill due to implementing AI automation over the next three years,” said Lian. 

The third trend outlined by IBM’s assessment is that data conversations will move out of IT departments and into the CEO level, as data will and technology will start affecting the entire business operations.

“Used to be the IT department or the chief information officer (CIO) runs the data conversation. But it has already boosted up to the C-level,” said Lian.

IBM’s assessment sees that data has become the lifeblood of every organisation, influencing strategy making, operational decisions and innovation.

This reliance on data integrity leads to organisations which are able to monetise large stores of trusted, high-quality data seeing almost double on their return on investment (ROI) from their AI capabilities from their peers. In 2024, it is expected that data will no longer be a technology concern, but a business imperative with great strategic significance.

With data playing such a key role, it also increases the importance of cybersecurity.

“We all understand that as we adopt more technology the exposure to cybersecurity increases,” said Lian.

Implementing GenAI comes with the drawback of making a business more vulnerable to cyber threats, with 51% of executives looking to get the budget of data security to see an increase.

Trend number four is that operating models will need to bend so they do not break. Lian explained this as “trusting that we are building an operating model that’s essential for organisations to withstand”.

The post-pandemic situation made organisations realise that the dependency on technology has increased. She said that organisations now aspire to build operating models that leverage technology to adapt businesses should such a situation happen again.

“Eighty-one percent have predicted that the capabilities of [GenAI] will be able to help organisations to [have] better visibility to any pandemic and attack,” said Lian.

The fifth and final trend is that ecosystems will no longer be part of the strategy, they will be the strategy.

This is explained that in 2024 tech and AI ecosystems will evolve from a collection of separate entities to banding together to achieve separate to aligned goals, as ecosystem providers partner with one another.

She said that “69% say organisations have seen stronger financial results due to participation in ecosystem partnerships, with 65% of executives saying organisations can access more relevant high demand skills due to ecosystem partnerships.

Augment not replace, a need to upskill workers to use AI

With much of the biggest trends surrounding AI going into 2024 it brings a rising need for businesses to upskill their workforce to keep up with the advancing technology as the technology continues to augment, not replace, the workforce.

Generative AI has the potential to significantly contribute towards accelerated achievement of the objectives and aspirations of the 12th Malaysia Plan and the New Industrial Master Plan 2023 by driving innovation and economic growth.

The technology can be harnessed to optimise resource allocation and infrastructure development, forecast demand and critical services such as healthcare and education.

Lian believes that GenAI will continue to redefine every job and task, from entry to executive level.
 
“When it comes to the conversation around GenAI, we always talk about technology, but how ready are these people?”

“An IBM study reveals that 40% of executives surveyed in Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] including Malaysia need to reskill their workforce as a result of implementing AI and automation over the next three years,” Lian said.

She also revealed that a further CEO study in 2023 revealed that major roadblocks are holding companies back from the benefits of AI, like having the necessary AI skills and expertise.

As AI becomes a bigger force in the business landscape, it is important to remember that AI is designed not to replace jobs but augment it. Humans, workers, need to upskill in order to truly make the most out of this new technology.

IBM’s journey to promote AI integration

In addressing the need to upskill workers to close the global AI skill gap, Lian said IBM is committed to train two million learners in AI by the end of 2026.

To accomplish this IBM expanded its AI education collaborations with universities including Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and aims to deliver AI training to adults through training partners and its newly launched AI coursework IBM SkillsBuild.

IBM also launched their own AI platform called watsonx, which comes with watsonx.ai, watsonx.data, and watsonx.governance to address scaling and operationalising AI to bridge the gap between AI technology and business outcomes.

“IBM watsonx platform empowers clients to develop and implement AI models while addressing issues of transparency, privacy and regulatory compliance,” said Lian.

She explained that this platform aims to give businesses access to toolsets, technology, infrastructure and consulting expertise to build their own available AI models and deploy them.

Of the products under watsonx, watsonx.governance was one Lian highlighted under the need to promote responsible AI application development and prepare for the regulation coming in the near future through easy management of the AI model.

The reason for the importance of AI governance and regulation is needed for building trust in AI, which Lian stressed is important for AI’s future.

Source: The Edge Malaysia

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