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June 2021
Getting Ahead With AI:
How APAC Companies
Replicate Success by
Remaining Focused
Changing market dynamics are propelling Asia-Pacific businesses to
take a highly disciplined and focused approach to ensuring that their
AI initiatives rapidly scale and quickly generate heightened business
impact. Even though they face steep technological and skills challenges,
businesses in the region appear poised to unleash the technology’s
potential to first grow revenue and then contain costs.
2 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused < Back to Contents
Contents
Click a link below to jump to that section.
3	Introduction
AI in APAC: Seen as vital, firms seek maturity
AI adoption is at an early stage
AI deployment is strong in specific areas
Progress is being made along several fronts
10	 The rich payoffs
Productivity, employee engagement and customer
satisfaction are the top benefits realised/targeted
12	
APAC’s AI formula: It’s all about making the right moves
The lessons learned by AI leaders can guide others to greater heights
APAC businesses are addressing the talent gap
APAC businesses view a holistic approach to data as business critical
17	 Challenges ahead
Concerns accompany the AI shift
Data integrity, security and governance threaten progress
22	 The road ahead
25	Methodology
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Introduction
Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast moving from an exciting
technology into a critical tool of survival for businesses
around the world. This was the overwhelming finding of our
groundbreaking global study conducted in partnership with
ESI ThoughtLab. We surveyed 1,200 senior executives around
the world, including more than 370 executives from the Asia-
Pacific (APAC) region, to understand how AI is being deployed
in an increasingly uncertain world. The study shines a light on
why organisations need to prioritise and scale AI.
Across APAC industries, a majority of respondents (71%) see AI as an essential
ingredient in business success. About 45% of respondents in the region consider
themselves to be either in the leaders or advancers category (see sidebar, page 5,
“Assessing Leaders vs. Laggards”), suggesting the potential for sustained growth
of AI adoption in the region.
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The region is moving in the right direction. While businesses in the
Americas tend to target larger-scale engagements, projects in APAC appear
to be smaller and more discrete, enabling organisations to more quickly
reap returns — relatively speaking. We believe this approach has helped
businesses throughout the region gain comfort and competency with
maturing AI toolsets and replicate success across the organisation — one
step at a time. With smaller accomplishments under their belts, we believe
the time is now right for leading organisations to shift gears to higher value,
enterprise-wide projects that could potentially change the competitive
landscape by delivering new products/services and ways of working.
Interestingly,the region sees a wide disparity between AI leaders and laggards
when it comes to adoption of key underlying technologies such as data
management (95% of leaders vs. 23% non-leaders) and machine learning
(83% of leaders vs. 5% non-leaders), highlighting the fact that AI is at an
early stage of mainstream adoption here, as it is elsewhere across the globe.
In the aftermath of COVID, data modernisation has emerged as a key
theme as businesses realised that their data and analytics/models are
highly perishable. APAC businesses are acutely aware of this and plan to
diversify their sources of data over the next three years.
AI talent — or the lack thereof — is another key challenge for businesses
across the region, as it is the world over. Most companies told us they rely
on internal talent development and technology partners to fill the gap. This
talent shortcoming is creating major implementation/project management
obstacles, which is cited by nearly half of the respondents as the biggest
challenge, followed by AI risks and ethics.
Increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction and employee
engagement are among the biggest benefits the region’s businesses
are achieving. By unlocking game-changing capabilities such as faster
and more accurate forecasting, intelligent machines offer businesses
throughout the region the opportunity to optimise operations and
perhaps even adjust for ongoing business volatility.
For APAC businesses, this e-book offers an evidence-based approach to
making the most of their critical AI investments. We hope these insights
help in finding a pathway through the chaos unleashed by the pandemic —
and beyond.
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Quick Take: Assessing
Leaders vs. Laggards
Beginner
Implementer
Advancer
Leader
17%
28%
34%
21%
A prime objective of our research was to determine what constitutes an AI leader.
To answer this, we assessed respondents along two key dimensions: level of AI
implementation and the benefits from AI investments.
Currently, just 17% of businesses are at the highest stage of AI maturity (the leaders),
while less than one-third are just behind them (advancers). Over half are in the early
stages of AI development (beginner or implementer). As we see in the pages that
follow, these percentages will radically shift in three years’ time. Here’s how we define
these categories:
	
❙ Beginner: Developing plans and building internal support for AI.
	
❙ Implementer: Starting to pilot AI and use a few simple applications.
	
❙ Advancer: Using AI in key parts of the business and seeing gains.
	
❙ Leader: Widely using AI to generate many benefits and transform business.
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 1
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Response base: 1,200
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 2
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
All
Americas
Europe
Asia Pacific India
Australia
China/HK
Singapore
Japan
71%
67%
57%
64%
81%
74% 71% 69%
57%
As work and commerce moved online in the
wake of the pandemic, APAC organisations
quickly realised the need to boost their
dependence on AI across their operations.
Importantly, a majority of APAC’s respondents
(71%) view AI as vital to their future.
% saying AI is considerably/very important
AI in APAC: Seen as vital, firms seek maturity
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
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Governments in the region have shown great
interest in AI, with China, Singapore and India,
among others, announcing ambitious national
strategies. However, at the corporate level,
progress is at an early stage. In fact, 55% of the
region’s respondents consider their companies
to be “beginners” or “implementers”.
Businesses are targeting a broad range of
processes, helping them lay a foundation for
enterprise-wide digitisation. The region’s leaders
exhibit a far higher level of adoption of AI and
other key digital technologies. Large gaps that
exist between leaders and non-leaders across
technologies such as robotic process automation
(RPA), machine learning and computer vision
are potential opportunities.
AI adoption is at an early stage
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 3
APAC leader
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Computer vision
Deep learning
NLP
Digital assistant
Machine learning
RPA
Data management
APAC non-leader
23%
13%
5%
8%
3%
3%
3%
95%
94%
83%
78%
65%
62%
57%
% maturing or advanced in technology adoption
8 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused  Back to Contents
Response base: 1,200
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 4
0%
10%
20%
30%
Europe
Asia Pacific
Americas
0
2
4
6
Europe
Asia Pacific
Americas
2.2
2.0
5.5
4.3
2.4
5.3
4.2
3.4
4.2
16%
21%
23%
16%
17%
12%
Beginner Leader Widescale
deployment
Partial
deployment
Piloting
When it comes to wide-scale deployment of AI
projects, APAC is keeping pace with the rest of
the world. Companies here also have a large
number of projects in progress, indicating that
the region has a strong foundation upon which
to further improve its AI efforts. The region
displays high interest in machine learning (ML),
and is slightly behind peers in the Americas when
it comes to RPA and digital assistants. Overall,
Japan has a greater share of AI leaders (24%) in
the region, while China stands at 12%. Chinese
organisations face deep-rooted challenges,
including a severe lack of AI talent; widespread
cybercriminal activity; regulatory obstacles; and
centralised business management, which can
slow innovation and scaling of AI. On the other
hand, lax privacy regulations in the country allow
Chinese businesses access to large data pools
that can be used to train the next generation of
algorithms.
% beginners and leaders by region
AI deployment is strong in specific areas
Average number of projects in place
Response base: 1,200
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
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APAC’s software expertise has helped businesses in the
region take big strides in machine intelligence. AI leaders
in the region have been able to make progress in key areas
such as preparing platforms for data management, scaling
machine intelligence and other people-related areas such as
coordinating teams, creating ethics standards and addressing
privacy/security concerns. This has resulted in a shortage of
talent that needs to be addressed proactively (see more on
page 14 and 15).
Progress is being made along several fronts
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 5
APAC leader
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Enabling non-data scientists with AI skills
Preparing AI platform for data and algorithms
Gathering, integrating, formatting data for AI
Scaling AI across the enterprise
Leveraging AI ecosystem
Defining business cases/plans
Coordinating AI experts and business teams
Developing/acquiring AI talent
Measuring, tracking AI performance results
Creating AI ethics standards and training
Addressing privacy, security and regulation
APAC non-leader
15%
15%
15%
16%
14%
19%
16%
22%
22%
20%
25%
87%
83%
84%
83%
89%
73%
82%
62%
81%
79%
84%
% firms that have largely or fully implemented AI areas
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The rich payoffs
Now
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Accelerated time to market
Stronger reputation
Greater shareholder value
Greater market share
Global expansion
New business models
Greater innovation
Decreased costs
Better risk management
Improved planning
Increased revenue
New products/services
Improved profitability
Increased customer satisfaction
Improved employee engagement
Higher productivity
In three years
61%
50%
57%
57%
46%
26%
21%
24%
54%
42%
39%
33%
21%
17%
15%
14%
12%
12%
10%
10%
8%
7%
7%
7%
25%
14%
16%
11%
22%
15%
17%
11%
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Productivity, employee engagement and customer
satisfaction are the top benefits realised/targeted
AI is delivering strong productivity
gains, APAC companies told us. This
is critical as it helps address labour
and talent shortages in the region.
A 2019 Microsoft study found that
AI would almost double the rate
of worker productivity in APAC by
2021. Combined with a focus on
improved employee engagement,
APAC companies appear focused
on maintaining their initial AI gains.
Going forward, new products/
services will emerge as a key area of
focus — with 46% seeing it as a key
benefit three years down the line.
% Asian firms seeing value created by AI now and in three years
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 6
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APAC’s AI formula: It’s all about
making the right moves
APAC leader
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Have an HR plan in place addressing jobs that may be disrupted
Think like a startup
Leverage the ecosystem of AI partners, suppliers and consultants
Put a dedicated AI team in place to drive development
Start with simple pilots that can demonstrate value
Make sure you have sufficient budget in place
Make sure you have the support of the management team
Develop work plan that builds on collaboration between technology and analytics teams
Work closely with business and functional teams to identify best use cases
Develop and communicate a clear vision and implementation plan
Make sure your IT architecture and data management system can support AI
Make sure you consider the cybersecurity, data privacy, and ethical risks
APAC non-leader
45%
40%
27%
28%
25%
24%
23%
23%
18%
14%
5%
5%
30%
11%
25%
21%
32%
17%
10%
13%
22%
25%
13%
14%
84%
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For AI non-leaders, the experience
of their successful peers offers
important lessons on how to close
the gaps in key areas. Cybersecurity,
data privacy and ethical risks are the
top considerations in this regard.
Beyond this groundwork, the leaders
emphasise collaboration between
the technology and analytics teams
to achieve higher efficiency and
communicate a clear vision and
implementation plan. CEOs need to
ensure that AI budgets are allocated,
while chief technology, operations
and innovation officers need to
prioritise IT infrastructure and data
management systems.
The lessons learned by AI leaders can guide
others to greater heights
Most important lessons learned in implementing advanced AI
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 7
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Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 8
0% 20% 40% 60%
Acquiring AI company/business
Recruiting new talent from outside
Partnering with universities
Purchasing products
Outsourcing AI work
Developing internal talent
Partnering with companies
0% 1% 2% 3%
Australia
China/HK
Japan
India
Singapore
1.95%
1.96%
2.15%
2.16%
2.36%
58%
53%
51%
38%
26%
22%
12%
Companies in the region are
using a three-pronged approach
to address skills shortcomings:
through upskilling programmes,
partnerships and out-tasking.
Companies in the region, especially
in Japan, are looking to grow talent
internally, rather than through MA
or outsourcing. Singapore has
the highest number of AI staff as
a percentage of total employees;
Australia and China have the
fewest. We believe working closely
with academic institutions and
government policymakers to boost
STEM programmes could help
companies in these countries to
close the talent gap.
% citing as solutions to develop talent
and capabilities
APAC businesses are addressing the talent gap
% personnel focused on AI, per country
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
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We worked with a global insurance provider that wanted to transform business
operations using advanced analytics. The first, and probably the biggest, hurdle was
talent — they had only one person in their data science team for APAC. We resolved this
by deploying almost 30 associates across sites in APAC. The team tackled 47 different
use cases in the first six months, working with multiple teams in different countries across
a range of customer analytics initiatives. This meant working with thousands of variables
and working with incomplete data. The team was able to generate deep customer
insights — field trials estimated the impact in the tens of millions of dollars annually.
Gradually, as the client ramped up its internal team, we were able to transition almost all
of the data science work to them.
From the talent perspective, one key learning from this was that businesses need
different levels of staffing at different stages of the project. When it comes to the talent
pipeline, businesses need to ask: Do we want to gradually build the capability in house or
can this be accelerated by bringing in external consultants who can then transition the
work back in house?
Quick Take: Transforming Insurance Operations
With Data Analytics and Talent
0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Audio
High-dimensional
Video
Image
Text
77%
26%
41%
43%
59%
70%
52%
18%
17%
15%
Now In 3 years
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Their holistic approach to data will help APAC companies progress on
the AI front. In the post-COVID era, this includes more frequent analysis
of trends, evaluating and refreshing existing analytics/models more often,
and refreshing databases more regularly. While text and images are the
most common form of data at present in APAC, video, high-dimensional
and audio data are set to grow fastest over the next three years. AI’s ability
to capture different types of data from images will give data management
at APAC organisations across industries an edge. In the long run, this will
boost returns from their increasing AI maturity.
APAC businesses view a holistic approach
to data as business-critical
% integrating data sources into AI applications
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 9
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Challenges ahead
18 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused  Back to Contents
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Embedding AI in daily tasks
Uncertain ROI
Lack of data/quality issues
Lack of IT infrastructure
Limited AI skills/talent
Cybersecurity/data privacy
Lack of regulatory guidance
Regulatory constraints
Managing AI risks and ethics
Project management
31%
47%
41%
35%
33%
32%
30%
28%
21%
29%
Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 10
Concerns associated with the rise of AI, including job losses and privacy
concerns, have emerged as the biggest challenge for AI projects in the
region. While this concern is not unfounded, its repercussions are certainly
overblown. AI is expected to create new jobs over the next 10 years even
as repetitive tasks are automated. These jobs will be built around data and
how it can be deployed to create new experiences. Some examples include
AI-assisted healthcare technicians and personal
data brokers. Meanwhile, worries about
malicious AI, along with the ethical concerns
surrounding potential AI bias and use
of facial recognition technology
(notably in China), are also rising.
Top 10 AI challenges for APAC organisations
Concerns accompany the AI shift
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We recently worked with a major consumer health company that sells its
products at over one million outlets across APAC. The company has more
than 3,000 sales representatives visiting the outlets but had no systematic
way of determining which SKUs should be sold to each outlet. We began by
building a recommendation system (using ML), starting with an initial build
in one country. Our initial mandate: Resolve data issues and understand
local market conditions and strategies. It took approximately six months to
get the recommendations live in the first country.
The project had a target of incremental sales to achieve in the first six
months (about double the cost of the initial build), and this was achieved
in the first two months of rollout. Subsequently, other countries went live
in about 10 weeks each. The project measures incremental revenue very
conservatively and recently clocked SG $12 million in total incremental
revenue across the region (achieving much greater than 10x return on
investment.)
Quick Take: Streamlining Retail Recommendations
With ML for a Consumer Health Company
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Data fundamentals, such as integrity, quality and security, are a bigger
concern in APAC than other regions. This could be because existing
legacy systems have been unable to keep pace with the rapid rate at which
enterprise data has expanded, impacting the mainstreaming of digital
technologies. On top of the aforementioned talent shortage, as many
as 40% of the companies studied do not have these basics in place. A
heightened pace of digital change is one of the primary sources of these
worries. With a wider variety of data types at their disposal, data and model
perishability (ensuring that only the freshest information is applied to
historical analysis and forecasting) could emerge as a key challenge.
Data integrity, security and governance
threaten progress
With a wider variety of data types at their
disposal, data and model perishability
could emerge as a key challenge.
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Response base: 371
Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
Figure 11
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Providing accurate metadata
Cleaning/normalization of data
Data silos/lack of data sharing
Availability of necessary data
Managing size/frequency of data
Identifying incomplete/corrupt records
Identifying the most trusted source
Data governance/regulatory compliance
Integrating data from multiple sources
Providing data security
Ensuring data integrity/quality
21%
45%
40%
35%
34%
29%
20%
14%
11%
7%
19%
Regulations in the region remain a work-in-progress. Countries are
developing their own regulations while creating regional cooperation around
data sharing and privacy. For example, the Cross-Border Privacy Rules
(CBPR), a framework for setting and raising privacy standards created by
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), is being rolled out across member
countries. Elsewhere, regulatory requirements such as “explainability” in the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer
Privacy Act (CCPA) — which require businesses to explain how an algorithm
arrived at its conclusions — could create compliance complexities for APAC
companies. Growing data privacy and cybersecurity regulations in the
region are a step in the right direction. However, if these regulations are not
developed in a harmonised fashion, it could create compliance complexities
for companies operating across borders.
% Asian firms citing different types of data challenges
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The road ahead
Businesses in APAC have seen the early promise of AI, and see it more
as a source of revenue than a means to reduce costs. We believe the
following four steps are critical for businesses in the region to succeed
with AI. Many businesses are in the early stages, and due to the disparity
in AI adoption and related technologies, a one-size-fits-all approach is not
appropriate. Leaders and non-leaders should prioritise these steps based
on their state of adoption and their vision for the future. As they progress,
opportunities come with some major hurdles, especially talent shortages,
data management and regulations.
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01
Start small; leave
nothing untouched
Going hard, fast, and small right at the outset has helped businesses in the
region by allowing them to keep things simple while delivering value. (See
Quick Take, page 19.) But the transformational effects of AI will be truly
experienced when it has a pervasive, ubiquitous presence across enterprise
work. This means identifying multiple uses cases and delivering on those
that generate value. As 27% of non-leaders told us, working closely with
business and functional teams to identify use cases was among their key
learnings so far. AI leaders in the region know this. Their implementation
rates are six-to-seven times that of non-leaders in some areas. They have
also prioritised collaboration and are leveraging their ecosystem of AI
partners and suppliers.
Non-leaders and beginners can emulate these practices and include AI
at the core of their business. The ability to scale AI models will separate
winners from losers in the coming years, but for many now is the time to
shift gears to higher value projects.
02
Best balance of
human and machine = win
As automation takes off, so will human-machine interaction. Businesses,
especially those in traditional industries, need to be prepared to strike a
balance between the two. Integrating machines with existing processes
requires leaders to understand how work is going to be impacted, what
it will look like and how they will support the transition. (See Quick Take,
page 15.) Not surprisingly, 84% of AI leaders in APAC said they focused on
enabling non-data scientists with AI skills. Building employee skills in line
with AI advancements will be necessary for businesses to win in the future.
To this end, we believe businesses can focus on the 5Ts which form the key
elements of human-machine interaction: tasks, teams, talent, technology
and trust. As work gets reimagined and productivity increases, retaining
and attracting the right people and building trust between humans and
machine will be critical in an AI-talent-deprived world.
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03
Explore new
value models
While productivity gains from targeted projects are often quick,
businesses in the region need to broaden the scope of their use cases
across the enterprise. Companies in APAC are looking at automated and
semiautomated decision-making where routine decisions will be informed
by AI, resulting from very narrow, focused use cases. Compared to this,
globally, we found that 25% of leaders were prioritising improved decision-
making, compared to just 16% of non-leaders. In the post-pandemic world,
this improved capability will further separate leaders from the rest of the
pack. Businesses in APAC should create new value models based around
data-enhanced products and services.
04
Data modernisation
as a continuous loop
Data remains the region’s biggest challenge by far. We believe AI maturity
goes hand-in-hand with data modernization — and even more so in the
post-COVID-19 world where the shelf-life of data is very short. However,
just over one-third of APAC organisations are maturing or advanced in the
basics of data management, and even fewer in RPA and digital assistants.
Strengthening of data fundamentals will be critical to close this gap and
allow businesses to begin a virtuous data modernisation loop based around
keeping data and analytical models fresh. Proliferation of data types that
can deliver greater insights (images and videos) can drive enhancements in
products and services leading to improved customer satisfaction.
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Methodology
To understand how companies use AI and how
it can help to drive growth and performance,
ESI ThoughtLab conducted a comprehensive
benchmarking survey in 2020 of executives at
1,200 companies across 12 industries and 15
countries. Of the sample, 31% of respondents
were from the Asia-Pacific companies.
Respondents reported superior or excellent
knowledge of the use of AI in their organisations.
A full 84% in APAC were C-level executives, and
the rest reported into the C-suite. The average
revenue for the Asian firms was $14.1bn.
The survey examined AI investments, plans,
practices and performance results at a wide
array of firms. It included questions to allow ESI
ThoughtLab economists to develop a robust AI
maturity framework, analyse performance results
and benchmark practices.
Asia-Pacific respondents by country
Singapore
Japan
India
China/Hong Kong SAR
Australia
$20bn
$5 to $19.9bn
$1 to $4.9bn
$1bn
20%
13%
27%
20%
20%
24%
27%
24%
25%
Asia-Pacific respondents by revenue size
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Newton Smith
Digital Business Leader,
Asia Pacific, Cognizant
Newton Smith is our Cognizant
Digital Business Leader for
Asia Pacific. He is a leader in
helping transform companies
through the implementation of
digital strategies across all aspects of the digital spectrum,
in particular, experience design, software engineering,
data and analytics. Newton has over 20 years of sustained
and proven success delivering high-value consulting
and technology engagements across multiple industries
developing innovative solutions; leading large and diverse
teams; and closing multimillion-dollar deals. He has a strong
international background with both regional and global
companies, including the last 12 years working in Asia.
Prior to joining Cognizant, Newton has held roles in Asia
Pacific Digital, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Optus
Communications. He can be reached at Newton.Smith@
cognizant.com | www.linkedin.com/in/newtonsmith.
Jeff Olson
Associate Vice President
— Projects, Artificial
Intelligence  Analytics
Practice, Cognizant Digital
Business  Technology
Jeff Olson leads the Applied
AI and Analytics Practice
for Cognizant Australia. In this role, he creates business
value for organizations using our human-centered, agile
approach to deliver superior customer experiences, more
intelligent products and smarter business operations in the
shortest amount of time. Prior to joining Cognizant,Jeff was
head of big data and analytics for Oracle, head of business
intelligence at IAG and Executive Director, IT industry, at
Ernst  Young.Jeff has a BA in management from St.John’s
University in New York. He can be reached at Jeff.Olson@
cognizant.com | www.linkedin.com/in/jeffrey-c-olson/.
Michael Camarri
Head, Cognizant Data
Science Team, APAC
Michael Camarri leads
Cognizant’s Data Science
Team across the APAC region
and has 22 years of experience
consulting in data science
(a.k.a., decision science). At marketRx (which Cognizant
acquired in 2007), Michael developed and designed the
mathematics, consulting processes and tools that enabled
the company to grow from six employees to over 500 in
seven years. Michael has had a number of global roles
at Cognizant, focusing on building repeatable analytical
processes for major global corporations across a wide
range of industries. He is currently based in Melbourne
and has a PhD in statistics from the University of California,
Berkeley, and an honours degree in pure mathematics,
statistics and computer science from the University of
Western Australia. He can be reached at Michael.Camarri@
cognizant.com | www.linkedin.com/in/michael-camarri/.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank Kaustubh Laturkar, Service Line Sales Manager, India, as well as Rajeshwer Chigullapalli and Akhil Tandulwadikar from Cognizant’s Global
Thought Leadership team, for their valuable contributions to this e-book.
About the authors
World Headquarters
300 Frank W. Burr Blvd. Suite 600
Teaneck, NJ 07666 USA
Phone: +1 201 801 0233
Fax: +1 201 801 0243
Toll Free: +1 888 937 3277
European Headquarters
1 Kingdom Street
Paddington Central
London W2 6BD England
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7297 7600
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7121 0102
India Operations Headquarters
#5/535 Old Mahabalipuram Road
Okkiyam Pettai, Thoraipakkam
Chennai, 600 096 India
Phone: +91 (0) 44 4209 6000
Fax: +91 (0) 44 4209 6060
APAC Headquarters
1 Changi Business Park Crescent,
Plaza 8@CBP # 07-04/05/06,
Tower A, Singapore 486025
Phone: + 65 6812 4051
Fax: + 65 6324 4051
Australian Headquarters
Level 37, International Tower Two,
200 Barangaroo Avenue,
Barangaroo, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: +61 2 9223 3988
About Cognizant’s Artificial Intelligence Practice
As part of Cognizant Digital Business  Technology, Cognizant’s Artificial Intelligence Practice provides advanced data
collection and management expertise, as well as artificial intelligence and analytics capabilities that help clients create
highly personalized digital experiences, products and services at every touch point of the customer journey. Our AI
solutions glean insights from data to inform decision-making, improve operations efficiencies and reduce costs. We apply
Evolutionary AI, Conversational AI and decision support solutions built on machine learning, deep learning and advanced
analytics techniques to help our clients optimize their business/IT strategy, identify new growth areas and outperform the
competition. To learn more, visit us at www.cognizant.com/ai.
About Cognizant
Cognizant (Nasdaq-100: CTSH) is one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’
business, operating and technology models for the digital era. Our unique industry-based, consultative approach helps
clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the U.S., Cognizant is ranked 194
on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world. Learn how Cognizant helps
clients lead with digital at www.cognizant.com or follow us @Cognizant.
Learn More
For more information,
visit www.cognizant.com
© Copyright 2021, Cognizant. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission from Cognizant.
The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
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Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused

  • 1. June 2021 Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Changing market dynamics are propelling Asia-Pacific businesses to take a highly disciplined and focused approach to ensuring that their AI initiatives rapidly scale and quickly generate heightened business impact. Even though they face steep technological and skills challenges, businesses in the region appear poised to unleash the technology’s potential to first grow revenue and then contain costs.
  • 2. 2 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused < Back to Contents Contents Click a link below to jump to that section. 3 Introduction AI in APAC: Seen as vital, firms seek maturity AI adoption is at an early stage AI deployment is strong in specific areas Progress is being made along several fronts 10 The rich payoffs Productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction are the top benefits realised/targeted 12 APAC’s AI formula: It’s all about making the right moves The lessons learned by AI leaders can guide others to greater heights APAC businesses are addressing the talent gap APAC businesses view a holistic approach to data as business critical 17 Challenges ahead Concerns accompany the AI shift Data integrity, security and governance threaten progress 22 The road ahead 25 Methodology
  • 3. 3 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Introduction Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast moving from an exciting technology into a critical tool of survival for businesses around the world. This was the overwhelming finding of our groundbreaking global study conducted in partnership with ESI ThoughtLab. We surveyed 1,200 senior executives around the world, including more than 370 executives from the Asia- Pacific (APAC) region, to understand how AI is being deployed in an increasingly uncertain world. The study shines a light on why organisations need to prioritise and scale AI. Across APAC industries, a majority of respondents (71%) see AI as an essential ingredient in business success. About 45% of respondents in the region consider themselves to be either in the leaders or advancers category (see sidebar, page 5, “Assessing Leaders vs. Laggards”), suggesting the potential for sustained growth of AI adoption in the region.
  • 4. 4 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents The region is moving in the right direction. While businesses in the Americas tend to target larger-scale engagements, projects in APAC appear to be smaller and more discrete, enabling organisations to more quickly reap returns — relatively speaking. We believe this approach has helped businesses throughout the region gain comfort and competency with maturing AI toolsets and replicate success across the organisation — one step at a time. With smaller accomplishments under their belts, we believe the time is now right for leading organisations to shift gears to higher value, enterprise-wide projects that could potentially change the competitive landscape by delivering new products/services and ways of working. Interestingly,the region sees a wide disparity between AI leaders and laggards when it comes to adoption of key underlying technologies such as data management (95% of leaders vs. 23% non-leaders) and machine learning (83% of leaders vs. 5% non-leaders), highlighting the fact that AI is at an early stage of mainstream adoption here, as it is elsewhere across the globe. In the aftermath of COVID, data modernisation has emerged as a key theme as businesses realised that their data and analytics/models are highly perishable. APAC businesses are acutely aware of this and plan to diversify their sources of data over the next three years. AI talent — or the lack thereof — is another key challenge for businesses across the region, as it is the world over. Most companies told us they rely on internal talent development and technology partners to fill the gap. This talent shortcoming is creating major implementation/project management obstacles, which is cited by nearly half of the respondents as the biggest challenge, followed by AI risks and ethics. Increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction and employee engagement are among the biggest benefits the region’s businesses are achieving. By unlocking game-changing capabilities such as faster and more accurate forecasting, intelligent machines offer businesses throughout the region the opportunity to optimise operations and perhaps even adjust for ongoing business volatility. For APAC businesses, this e-book offers an evidence-based approach to making the most of their critical AI investments. We hope these insights help in finding a pathway through the chaos unleashed by the pandemic — and beyond.
  • 5. 5 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Quick Take: Assessing Leaders vs. Laggards Beginner Implementer Advancer Leader 17% 28% 34% 21% A prime objective of our research was to determine what constitutes an AI leader. To answer this, we assessed respondents along two key dimensions: level of AI implementation and the benefits from AI investments. Currently, just 17% of businesses are at the highest stage of AI maturity (the leaders), while less than one-third are just behind them (advancers). Over half are in the early stages of AI development (beginner or implementer). As we see in the pages that follow, these percentages will radically shift in three years’ time. Here’s how we define these categories: ❙ Beginner: Developing plans and building internal support for AI. ❙ Implementer: Starting to pilot AI and use a few simple applications. ❙ Advancer: Using AI in key parts of the business and seeing gains. ❙ Leader: Widely using AI to generate many benefits and transform business. Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 1
  • 6. 6 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Response base: 1,200 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 2 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% All Americas Europe Asia Pacific India Australia China/HK Singapore Japan 71% 67% 57% 64% 81% 74% 71% 69% 57% As work and commerce moved online in the wake of the pandemic, APAC organisations quickly realised the need to boost their dependence on AI across their operations. Importantly, a majority of APAC’s respondents (71%) view AI as vital to their future. % saying AI is considerably/very important AI in APAC: Seen as vital, firms seek maturity Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
  • 7. 7 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Governments in the region have shown great interest in AI, with China, Singapore and India, among others, announcing ambitious national strategies. However, at the corporate level, progress is at an early stage. In fact, 55% of the region’s respondents consider their companies to be “beginners” or “implementers”. Businesses are targeting a broad range of processes, helping them lay a foundation for enterprise-wide digitisation. The region’s leaders exhibit a far higher level of adoption of AI and other key digital technologies. Large gaps that exist between leaders and non-leaders across technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and computer vision are potential opportunities. AI adoption is at an early stage Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 3 APAC leader 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Computer vision Deep learning NLP Digital assistant Machine learning RPA Data management APAC non-leader 23% 13% 5% 8% 3% 3% 3% 95% 94% 83% 78% 65% 62% 57% % maturing or advanced in technology adoption
  • 8. 8 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Response base: 1,200 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 4 0% 10% 20% 30% Europe Asia Pacific Americas 0 2 4 6 Europe Asia Pacific Americas 2.2 2.0 5.5 4.3 2.4 5.3 4.2 3.4 4.2 16% 21% 23% 16% 17% 12% Beginner Leader Widescale deployment Partial deployment Piloting When it comes to wide-scale deployment of AI projects, APAC is keeping pace with the rest of the world. Companies here also have a large number of projects in progress, indicating that the region has a strong foundation upon which to further improve its AI efforts. The region displays high interest in machine learning (ML), and is slightly behind peers in the Americas when it comes to RPA and digital assistants. Overall, Japan has a greater share of AI leaders (24%) in the region, while China stands at 12%. Chinese organisations face deep-rooted challenges, including a severe lack of AI talent; widespread cybercriminal activity; regulatory obstacles; and centralised business management, which can slow innovation and scaling of AI. On the other hand, lax privacy regulations in the country allow Chinese businesses access to large data pools that can be used to train the next generation of algorithms. % beginners and leaders by region AI deployment is strong in specific areas Average number of projects in place Response base: 1,200 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
  • 9. 9 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents APAC’s software expertise has helped businesses in the region take big strides in machine intelligence. AI leaders in the region have been able to make progress in key areas such as preparing platforms for data management, scaling machine intelligence and other people-related areas such as coordinating teams, creating ethics standards and addressing privacy/security concerns. This has resulted in a shortage of talent that needs to be addressed proactively (see more on page 14 and 15). Progress is being made along several fronts Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 5 APAC leader 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Enabling non-data scientists with AI skills Preparing AI platform for data and algorithms Gathering, integrating, formatting data for AI Scaling AI across the enterprise Leveraging AI ecosystem Defining business cases/plans Coordinating AI experts and business teams Developing/acquiring AI talent Measuring, tracking AI performance results Creating AI ethics standards and training Addressing privacy, security and regulation APAC non-leader 15% 15% 15% 16% 14% 19% 16% 22% 22% 20% 25% 87% 83% 84% 83% 89% 73% 82% 62% 81% 79% 84% % firms that have largely or fully implemented AI areas
  • 10. 10 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents The rich payoffs
  • 11. Now 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Accelerated time to market Stronger reputation Greater shareholder value Greater market share Global expansion New business models Greater innovation Decreased costs Better risk management Improved planning Increased revenue New products/services Improved profitability Increased customer satisfaction Improved employee engagement Higher productivity In three years 61% 50% 57% 57% 46% 26% 21% 24% 54% 42% 39% 33% 21% 17% 15% 14% 12% 12% 10% 10% 8% 7% 7% 7% 25% 14% 16% 11% 22% 15% 17% 11% 11 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction are the top benefits realised/targeted AI is delivering strong productivity gains, APAC companies told us. This is critical as it helps address labour and talent shortages in the region. A 2019 Microsoft study found that AI would almost double the rate of worker productivity in APAC by 2021. Combined with a focus on improved employee engagement, APAC companies appear focused on maintaining their initial AI gains. Going forward, new products/ services will emerge as a key area of focus — with 46% seeing it as a key benefit three years down the line. % Asian firms seeing value created by AI now and in three years Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 6
  • 12. 12 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents APAC’s AI formula: It’s all about making the right moves
  • 13. APAC leader 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Have an HR plan in place addressing jobs that may be disrupted Think like a startup Leverage the ecosystem of AI partners, suppliers and consultants Put a dedicated AI team in place to drive development Start with simple pilots that can demonstrate value Make sure you have sufficient budget in place Make sure you have the support of the management team Develop work plan that builds on collaboration between technology and analytics teams Work closely with business and functional teams to identify best use cases Develop and communicate a clear vision and implementation plan Make sure your IT architecture and data management system can support AI Make sure you consider the cybersecurity, data privacy, and ethical risks APAC non-leader 45% 40% 27% 28% 25% 24% 23% 23% 18% 14% 5% 5% 30% 11% 25% 21% 32% 17% 10% 13% 22% 25% 13% 14% 84% 13 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents For AI non-leaders, the experience of their successful peers offers important lessons on how to close the gaps in key areas. Cybersecurity, data privacy and ethical risks are the top considerations in this regard. Beyond this groundwork, the leaders emphasise collaboration between the technology and analytics teams to achieve higher efficiency and communicate a clear vision and implementation plan. CEOs need to ensure that AI budgets are allocated, while chief technology, operations and innovation officers need to prioritise IT infrastructure and data management systems. The lessons learned by AI leaders can guide others to greater heights Most important lessons learned in implementing advanced AI Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 7
  • 14. 14 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 8 0% 20% 40% 60% Acquiring AI company/business Recruiting new talent from outside Partnering with universities Purchasing products Outsourcing AI work Developing internal talent Partnering with companies 0% 1% 2% 3% Australia China/HK Japan India Singapore 1.95% 1.96% 2.15% 2.16% 2.36% 58% 53% 51% 38% 26% 22% 12% Companies in the region are using a three-pronged approach to address skills shortcomings: through upskilling programmes, partnerships and out-tasking. Companies in the region, especially in Japan, are looking to grow talent internally, rather than through MA or outsourcing. Singapore has the highest number of AI staff as a percentage of total employees; Australia and China have the fewest. We believe working closely with academic institutions and government policymakers to boost STEM programmes could help companies in these countries to close the talent gap. % citing as solutions to develop talent and capabilities APAC businesses are addressing the talent gap % personnel focused on AI, per country Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant
  • 15. 15 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents We worked with a global insurance provider that wanted to transform business operations using advanced analytics. The first, and probably the biggest, hurdle was talent — they had only one person in their data science team for APAC. We resolved this by deploying almost 30 associates across sites in APAC. The team tackled 47 different use cases in the first six months, working with multiple teams in different countries across a range of customer analytics initiatives. This meant working with thousands of variables and working with incomplete data. The team was able to generate deep customer insights — field trials estimated the impact in the tens of millions of dollars annually. Gradually, as the client ramped up its internal team, we were able to transition almost all of the data science work to them. From the talent perspective, one key learning from this was that businesses need different levels of staffing at different stages of the project. When it comes to the talent pipeline, businesses need to ask: Do we want to gradually build the capability in house or can this be accelerated by bringing in external consultants who can then transition the work back in house? Quick Take: Transforming Insurance Operations With Data Analytics and Talent
  • 16. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Audio High-dimensional Video Image Text 77% 26% 41% 43% 59% 70% 52% 18% 17% 15% Now In 3 years 16 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Their holistic approach to data will help APAC companies progress on the AI front. In the post-COVID era, this includes more frequent analysis of trends, evaluating and refreshing existing analytics/models more often, and refreshing databases more regularly. While text and images are the most common form of data at present in APAC, video, high-dimensional and audio data are set to grow fastest over the next three years. AI’s ability to capture different types of data from images will give data management at APAC organisations across industries an edge. In the long run, this will boost returns from their increasing AI maturity. APAC businesses view a holistic approach to data as business-critical % integrating data sources into AI applications Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 9
  • 17. 17 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Challenges ahead
  • 18. 18 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Embedding AI in daily tasks Uncertain ROI Lack of data/quality issues Lack of IT infrastructure Limited AI skills/talent Cybersecurity/data privacy Lack of regulatory guidance Regulatory constraints Managing AI risks and ethics Project management 31% 47% 41% 35% 33% 32% 30% 28% 21% 29% Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 10 Concerns associated with the rise of AI, including job losses and privacy concerns, have emerged as the biggest challenge for AI projects in the region. While this concern is not unfounded, its repercussions are certainly overblown. AI is expected to create new jobs over the next 10 years even as repetitive tasks are automated. These jobs will be built around data and how it can be deployed to create new experiences. Some examples include AI-assisted healthcare technicians and personal data brokers. Meanwhile, worries about malicious AI, along with the ethical concerns surrounding potential AI bias and use of facial recognition technology (notably in China), are also rising. Top 10 AI challenges for APAC organisations Concerns accompany the AI shift
  • 19. 19 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents We recently worked with a major consumer health company that sells its products at over one million outlets across APAC. The company has more than 3,000 sales representatives visiting the outlets but had no systematic way of determining which SKUs should be sold to each outlet. We began by building a recommendation system (using ML), starting with an initial build in one country. Our initial mandate: Resolve data issues and understand local market conditions and strategies. It took approximately six months to get the recommendations live in the first country. The project had a target of incremental sales to achieve in the first six months (about double the cost of the initial build), and this was achieved in the first two months of rollout. Subsequently, other countries went live in about 10 weeks each. The project measures incremental revenue very conservatively and recently clocked SG $12 million in total incremental revenue across the region (achieving much greater than 10x return on investment.) Quick Take: Streamlining Retail Recommendations With ML for a Consumer Health Company
  • 20. 20 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Data fundamentals, such as integrity, quality and security, are a bigger concern in APAC than other regions. This could be because existing legacy systems have been unable to keep pace with the rapid rate at which enterprise data has expanded, impacting the mainstreaming of digital technologies. On top of the aforementioned talent shortage, as many as 40% of the companies studied do not have these basics in place. A heightened pace of digital change is one of the primary sources of these worries. With a wider variety of data types at their disposal, data and model perishability (ensuring that only the freshest information is applied to historical analysis and forecasting) could emerge as a key challenge. Data integrity, security and governance threaten progress With a wider variety of data types at their disposal, data and model perishability could emerge as a key challenge.
  • 21. 21 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Response base: 371 Source: ESI ThoughtLab/Cognizant Figure 11 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Providing accurate metadata Cleaning/normalization of data Data silos/lack of data sharing Availability of necessary data Managing size/frequency of data Identifying incomplete/corrupt records Identifying the most trusted source Data governance/regulatory compliance Integrating data from multiple sources Providing data security Ensuring data integrity/quality 21% 45% 40% 35% 34% 29% 20% 14% 11% 7% 19% Regulations in the region remain a work-in-progress. Countries are developing their own regulations while creating regional cooperation around data sharing and privacy. For example, the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR), a framework for setting and raising privacy standards created by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), is being rolled out across member countries. Elsewhere, regulatory requirements such as “explainability” in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) — which require businesses to explain how an algorithm arrived at its conclusions — could create compliance complexities for APAC companies. Growing data privacy and cybersecurity regulations in the region are a step in the right direction. However, if these regulations are not developed in a harmonised fashion, it could create compliance complexities for companies operating across borders. % Asian firms citing different types of data challenges
  • 22. 22 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents The road ahead Businesses in APAC have seen the early promise of AI, and see it more as a source of revenue than a means to reduce costs. We believe the following four steps are critical for businesses in the region to succeed with AI. Many businesses are in the early stages, and due to the disparity in AI adoption and related technologies, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate. Leaders and non-leaders should prioritise these steps based on their state of adoption and their vision for the future. As they progress, opportunities come with some major hurdles, especially talent shortages, data management and regulations.
  • 23. 23 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents 01 Start small; leave nothing untouched Going hard, fast, and small right at the outset has helped businesses in the region by allowing them to keep things simple while delivering value. (See Quick Take, page 19.) But the transformational effects of AI will be truly experienced when it has a pervasive, ubiquitous presence across enterprise work. This means identifying multiple uses cases and delivering on those that generate value. As 27% of non-leaders told us, working closely with business and functional teams to identify use cases was among their key learnings so far. AI leaders in the region know this. Their implementation rates are six-to-seven times that of non-leaders in some areas. They have also prioritised collaboration and are leveraging their ecosystem of AI partners and suppliers. Non-leaders and beginners can emulate these practices and include AI at the core of their business. The ability to scale AI models will separate winners from losers in the coming years, but for many now is the time to shift gears to higher value projects. 02 Best balance of human and machine = win As automation takes off, so will human-machine interaction. Businesses, especially those in traditional industries, need to be prepared to strike a balance between the two. Integrating machines with existing processes requires leaders to understand how work is going to be impacted, what it will look like and how they will support the transition. (See Quick Take, page 15.) Not surprisingly, 84% of AI leaders in APAC said they focused on enabling non-data scientists with AI skills. Building employee skills in line with AI advancements will be necessary for businesses to win in the future. To this end, we believe businesses can focus on the 5Ts which form the key elements of human-machine interaction: tasks, teams, talent, technology and trust. As work gets reimagined and productivity increases, retaining and attracting the right people and building trust between humans and machine will be critical in an AI-talent-deprived world.
  • 24. 24 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents 03 Explore new value models While productivity gains from targeted projects are often quick, businesses in the region need to broaden the scope of their use cases across the enterprise. Companies in APAC are looking at automated and semiautomated decision-making where routine decisions will be informed by AI, resulting from very narrow, focused use cases. Compared to this, globally, we found that 25% of leaders were prioritising improved decision- making, compared to just 16% of non-leaders. In the post-pandemic world, this improved capability will further separate leaders from the rest of the pack. Businesses in APAC should create new value models based around data-enhanced products and services. 04 Data modernisation as a continuous loop Data remains the region’s biggest challenge by far. We believe AI maturity goes hand-in-hand with data modernization — and even more so in the post-COVID-19 world where the shelf-life of data is very short. However, just over one-third of APAC organisations are maturing or advanced in the basics of data management, and even fewer in RPA and digital assistants. Strengthening of data fundamentals will be critical to close this gap and allow businesses to begin a virtuous data modernisation loop based around keeping data and analytical models fresh. Proliferation of data types that can deliver greater insights (images and videos) can drive enhancements in products and services leading to improved customer satisfaction.
  • 25. 25 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Methodology To understand how companies use AI and how it can help to drive growth and performance, ESI ThoughtLab conducted a comprehensive benchmarking survey in 2020 of executives at 1,200 companies across 12 industries and 15 countries. Of the sample, 31% of respondents were from the Asia-Pacific companies. Respondents reported superior or excellent knowledge of the use of AI in their organisations. A full 84% in APAC were C-level executives, and the rest reported into the C-suite. The average revenue for the Asian firms was $14.1bn. The survey examined AI investments, plans, practices and performance results at a wide array of firms. It included questions to allow ESI ThoughtLab economists to develop a robust AI maturity framework, analyse performance results and benchmark practices. Asia-Pacific respondents by country Singapore Japan India China/Hong Kong SAR Australia $20bn $5 to $19.9bn $1 to $4.9bn $1bn 20% 13% 27% 20% 20% 24% 27% 24% 25% Asia-Pacific respondents by revenue size
  • 26. 26 / Getting Ahead With AI: How APAC Companies Replicate Success by Remaining Focused Back to Contents Newton Smith Digital Business Leader, Asia Pacific, Cognizant Newton Smith is our Cognizant Digital Business Leader for Asia Pacific. He is a leader in helping transform companies through the implementation of digital strategies across all aspects of the digital spectrum, in particular, experience design, software engineering, data and analytics. Newton has over 20 years of sustained and proven success delivering high-value consulting and technology engagements across multiple industries developing innovative solutions; leading large and diverse teams; and closing multimillion-dollar deals. He has a strong international background with both regional and global companies, including the last 12 years working in Asia. Prior to joining Cognizant, Newton has held roles in Asia Pacific Digital, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Optus Communications. He can be reached at Newton.Smith@ cognizant.com | www.linkedin.com/in/newtonsmith. Jeff Olson Associate Vice President — Projects, Artificial Intelligence Analytics Practice, Cognizant Digital Business Technology Jeff Olson leads the Applied AI and Analytics Practice for Cognizant Australia. In this role, he creates business value for organizations using our human-centered, agile approach to deliver superior customer experiences, more intelligent products and smarter business operations in the shortest amount of time. Prior to joining Cognizant,Jeff was head of big data and analytics for Oracle, head of business intelligence at IAG and Executive Director, IT industry, at Ernst Young.Jeff has a BA in management from St.John’s University in New York. He can be reached at Jeff.Olson@ cognizant.com | www.linkedin.com/in/jeffrey-c-olson/. Michael Camarri Head, Cognizant Data Science Team, APAC Michael Camarri leads Cognizant’s Data Science Team across the APAC region and has 22 years of experience consulting in data science (a.k.a., decision science). At marketRx (which Cognizant acquired in 2007), Michael developed and designed the mathematics, consulting processes and tools that enabled the company to grow from six employees to over 500 in seven years. Michael has had a number of global roles at Cognizant, focusing on building repeatable analytical processes for major global corporations across a wide range of industries. He is currently based in Melbourne and has a PhD in statistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an honours degree in pure mathematics, statistics and computer science from the University of Western Australia. He can be reached at Michael.Camarri@ cognizant.com | www.linkedin.com/in/michael-camarri/. Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank Kaustubh Laturkar, Service Line Sales Manager, India, as well as Rajeshwer Chigullapalli and Akhil Tandulwadikar from Cognizant’s Global Thought Leadership team, for their valuable contributions to this e-book. About the authors
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