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AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES LACK AI UNDERSTANDING AND SKILLS

29-08-2019
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Peter Chidiac, Avaya: "willingness to be digitally advanced does not necessarily correlate with the completion of projects"

Research has revealed that 90 per cent of Australian businesses identify artificial intelligence technology as one of the most important issues for 2019, and 80 per cent recognise that failing to get on board with AI now will cost their business for the next decade. These figures reflect Australia as a nation typically regarded as an early, eager adopter of emerging and advanced technology.

But the research, conducted by technology sector market researcher Vanson Bourne for business communications company Avaya, also indicates that 42 per cent lack understanding of AI, while the same amount don’t have the in-house skills to facilitate adoption, exceeding the global average of 37 in each category. The researchers surveyed business and IT decision makers globally from enterprises with more than 1000 employees, and their results and analysis have been published in a report, AI in the Contact Centre 2019.

The willingness of Australian businesses to become front-runners remains inhibited. Of the 42 per cent that lack understanding about AI, just over a third (36 per cent) believe this is due to inaccurate reporting on the capabilities of AI, while 31 per cent are confused between ‘real AI’ and ‘television/movie AI’. Furthermore, 45 per cent said that over-reporting of AI ‘scare stories’ is leading to a lack of understanding, significantly higher than the global average of 28 per cent.

These shortcomings may be the consequence of a lack of an AI strategy; only 24 per cent of Australian businesses have a fully implemented strategy.

“This research demonstrates that the willingness to be digitally advanced does not necessarily correlate with the extent to which AI-based projects have been completed to date,” Avaya Managing Director Australia and New Zealand Peter Chidiac says.

“While pop culture is largely focused on dystopian examples of AI, the reality is that use cases are little more than nascent. Although our Australian enterprise customers – including leaders in financial services, logistics, retail and healthcare – have delivered successful AI projects, many conversations are still focused on establishing pragmatic strategies focused on smaller wins, not company-wide overhauls.”

Although the report exposes the shortcomings of local enterprises, it also reveals positive signs ahead. Almost all (98 per cent) of Australian respondents claim to be using AI to some degree in their contact centre, and the vast majority (91 per cent) are realistic about their current position, conceding they have progress to make if they are to capitalise on AI. Currently, 50 per cent of those deploying a form of AI are only halfway through their projects. As a result, as AI becomes more prominent, 83 per cent will need to look for more third-party support to plug gaps in internal resources or skills.

“We are seeing AI being used in limited capacities and for point solutions, such as chatbots and natural language speech processing,” said Chidiac. “Ultimately, I believe that an enterprise-wide AI ‘engine’ will fuel the use of this advanced technology across all aspects of customer engagement. This will then unlock the true potential of the omni-channel dream.”

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