Generative AI must be done properly to benefit enterprises

Generative AI must be done properly to benefit enterprises
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ITEM: Generative AI will help blaze a path to “a bold new future for business as physical and digital worlds become inextricably linked” in Asia and elsewhere – but only if you do it right. And there’s plenty that could go wrong.

So says the new Accenture Technology Vision 2023 report, which reckons that generative AI will be a powerful tool for enterprises to augment human capabilities in the coming years, serving as “co-pilot, creative partner or advisor”.

Most executives surveyed for the report agree. In the ASEAN region, a whopping 99% of respondents said generative AI will “spark significant creativity and innovation, and usher in a new era of enterprise intelligence”. They also say AI foundation models will play an important role in their organisation’s strategies over the next three to five years.

That’s a simple statement that sort of glosses over how crucial foundation models are to implementing any kind of AI strategy. According to the Accenture report, enterprises have to work out what foundation models to use, what role they should play within the organization (i.e. what are the best or most likely use cases), how they will access these models, where they will sit in the foundation model ecosystem, and recruiting sufficient talent to not only implement foundation models, but build on top of them.

Generative AI is not risk-free

Not coincidentally, even execs who are enthusiastic about generative AI don’t see it as a risk-free technological leap that will encounter little to no resistance. ASEAN execs listed several implementation risks – the top ones being misaligned application of the technology, high or increased costs, and stakeholder pushbacks.

In Singapore (where 98% of polled execs think generative AI is the future of business), respondents also named “dependency on creators of AI foundation models” as a big risk.

A related factor to all this is, of course, data strategies. Put simply, the Accenture report says, generative AI can only live up to its full potential if it has sufficient and reliable data to train on. That means enterprises need a strong data strategy that enables them to break down their structural silos and create a solid data foundation to work with.

This is something that’s been understood intellectually for years – and indeed, 96% of ASEAN respondents said they believe data is “becoming a key competitive differentiator within organisations and across industries.” However, not that many enterprises have managed to actually translate that belief into an executable plan for a variety of reasons. That’s going to have to change (and soon) before AI of any stripe can be of any practical use for them.

Bridging the digital and the physical

Meanwhile, it’s worth reiterating that the report looks at generative AI within the broader context of bridging the digital world and the physical world. From the press release:

“The next decade will be defined by three mega technology trends – cloud, metaverse and AI – which collectively will collapse the distance of our digital and physical worlds,” said Paul Daugherty, group chief executive of Accenture Technology. “While generative AI will have far-reaching impact, leaders must dive in now to achieve its full promise, as it will require significant investments in data, people, and customizing foundation models to meet organizations’ unique needs.”

The report also lists digital identity as a key emerging technology, because of its promised ability to authenticate digital users and assets in ways that enable them to traverse digital and physical worlds. The report says 93% of ASEAN execs see digital ID as “a strategic business imperative, not just a technical issue.”

Another interesting finding from the report: 96% of AEAN respondents agreed that the “feedback loop” between science and technology is getting faster, with each accelerating the advancement of the other.

Which is another way of saying that these technologies are evolving so quickly – and at unprecedented speeds – that there’s a real risk of falling behind the curve if you don’t have a proper digital foundation in place to keep up. That’s why enterprises will need invest properly in emerging technologies that help them to accelerate their own reinvention, the report says.

The full report is here.

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