The future of generative AI in business

Avanade Australia Pty Ltd

By Larry Ye, Growth Markets AI & Data Science Lead, Avanade
Friday, 19 May, 2023

The future of generative AI in business

2023 is the year artificial intelligence (AI) will go mainstream — becoming the next wave of computing with vast potential to shape the future of enterprises and societies in profound ways. In fact, according to an IDC report, AI system spending in Asia–Pacific is expected to double from 2022 to 2026, hitting a high of US$46.6 billion.

AI is, by no means, a new technology — but recent advancements in computing power, data storage and machine learning algorithms have made it more powerful and accessible than ever before. Generative AI, specifically large language models (LLMs) like GPT popularised by OpenAI and Microsoft, have catapulted us into a new era by democratising AI for enterprises.

The potential benefits of AI in the ways we live, work and play are immense — and we’re already seeing how AI is being used in a wide range of applications: from speech recognition and natural language processing to self-driving cars and predictive analytics. AI is also transforming industries from health care and financial services to transportation. It can analyse medical records and develop personalised treatment plans, detect fraud and optimise investment portfolios, and drive safety with air traffic control and autonomous vehicles.

Understandably, there is also palpable fear across the workforce that it will render people redundant in their roles, concerns over responsible AI and privacy issues.

Making sense of a revolution

It is human nature to fear what we don’t know. For instance, when the search engine was first introduced, many thought that their jobs will be made redundant. In the same vein, there is a need to understand what AI is and isn’t, how it will augment the way we work and its ability to improve efficiency, productivity, decision-making, safety and accessibility.

What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. With new breakthroughs in technology happening each day, organisations are forced to rethink the customer experience and how employees can be empowered and supercharged. On top of that — IT departments, CIOs and CTOs are seeing their roles being redefined and the role that technology plays in their operations.

AI is becoming an essential tool for managing and analysing data, and helping organisations make better decisions and gain insights that would be impossible without AI. As AI continues to evolve, IT leaders will need to stay up to date with the latest developments and invest in the right technologies and tools to stay ahead of the curve.

People and trust at the heart of AI

At the rate that AI is advancing, it is clear it is here to stay. However, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that AI is used in an ethical and responsible manner. There is a risk that AI systems may be biased, discriminatory or perpetuate existing societal inequalities — particularly if they are trained on biased data or by a team that lacks diversity. Which is why people are — and will always be — critical. As the accuracy and relevancy of AI continues to improve, a human ‘copilot’ is essential. It is important to ensure that AI systems are designed and trained with fairness and transparency in mind, and that they do not perpetuate biases or discrimination.

Creating and maintaining trust must be at the core of anything involving AI. At the organisational level, companies using AI need to be transparent about their use of the technology, ensure that their algorithms are fair and unbiased, and that their employees have the necessary skills and training to work effectively with AI systems.

There also needs to be a multipronged industry-wide effort to drive the understanding of AI, awareness of what it is and isn’t, its potential benefits and risks, as well as address fears and concerns. This would require education and training initiatives aimed at helping people develop the skills they need to work with AI systems and to understand the potential implications of AI on their lives and society. Starting from a government policy and regulation level through to the workforce and individuals, there is still a lot to be done to ensure the use of AI is fair, responsible and trusted.

The future of AI

As our understanding of AI continues to grow, organisations are already starting to embed the technology into their operations — from everyday interactions like chatbots to tackling large-scale supply chains. It won’t be long before we start seeing breakthroughs in health care for example, where AI is able to help accelerate the process of drug discovery; or in financial services where an advisor can meet with their client using simple text prompts to generate a personalised meeting in a custom virtual world with tailored information and charts for the discussion.

Being able to leverage AI effectively and purposefully will not miraculously happen overnight, organisations need to switch to an AI-first mindset. AI is not a panacea, but an enabler or augmenter of how we work, play and live. This means while recognising AI’s potential to drive innovation or create new opportunities, it also involves a commitment to invest in the technology and skills needed to use it effectively and responsibly.

Image credit: Dutton

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