AI has been the wild card of the emerging tech space. This rapidly evolving technology has created waves in both the business and e-governance world, upending expectations on the extent of its capabilities. With the entry of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, its potential for transforming everyday life has just been unleashed. Many experts believe that we have just scratched the surface of AI’s potential for innovation.
AI’s ability to quickly learn anything thrown at it has been one of its most notable—and perhaps unsettling—features. In 2019, a remarkable feat was achieved by an AI player named AlphaGo, which defeated the world Go champion Lee Se-dol. After his loss, Lee retired from the game. “With the debut of AI in Go games, I’ve realized that I’m not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts. Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated,” he said.
The entry of AI could not have been at a more opportune time. The world is generating large amounts of data, which is becoming quite a task for humans to cope with. AI can help lift this burden. “This new generation of AI will remove the drudgery of work and unleash creativity, said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “There’s an enormous opportunity for AI-powered tools to help alleviate digital debt, build AI aptitude, and empower employees.”
Digital debt is costing us innovation
The inflow of data, emails, meetings and notifications have dented the ability of employees to spend enough time on creative work that leads to innovation. In a global survey of 31,000 people by Microsoft, it was found that regionally, most leaders, i.e., 65% from Asia-Pacific (APAC) are concerned about lack of innovation.
Exhibit 1: Lack of innovation runs high in APAC
This could be due to the fact that most employees in Asia, i.e., 72%, say that they struggle with having enough time and energy to get their work done. Those workers are also 3 times more likely to struggle with innovation and strategic thinking. The percentage of struggling workers in APAC is higher than in other regions.
Exhibit 2: No time and energy to get work done
A new AI-employee alliance
Job loss to AI is a growing concern among the general workforce. But the Microsoft survey reveals otherwise, pointing to most employees eagerly looking to AI taking over menial daily tasks, believing strongly that it will enhance creativity.
The survey also indicates that there is a higher percentage of APAC employees who are positive about AI than those who are worried about it. Within the region, fear towards AI is high among Indian employees, while optimism towards it is high among countries like Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand.
Exhibit 3: India stands out as being both highly optimistic and fearful of AI
Business leaders in the Philippines are 3.2 times more likely to consider AI as a productivity booster than a way for reducing employee headcount (44% vs 14%). More than 8 of 10 people in APAC would be comfortable using AI not just for analytical work (85%), but also for administrative tasks (83%) and even creative aspects of their role (81%).
Ability to co-work
AI aptitude will be a necessary skill among employees for leveraging AI’s potential. Understanding when to use what AI skills to use for what tasks will be crucial. More than 9 of 10 (94%) Vietnamese business leaders prefer that new hired employees come prepared for the growth of AI.
Exhibit 4: AI aptitude needed from new hires
AI’s growth cannot be stalled. In studying the risks and disruptions that characterise the broader adoption of AI, there must likewise be an appreciation of the opportunities offered by this technology. It will become imperative for employees of the future to invest their time and effort in learning more about AI to see how it can optimise the potential of their workforce. By strategically wielding the strengths of AI, business leaders may actually help enhance worker productivity and increase efficiency within their organisations.