Implemented responsibly, Generative AI is set to create a ripple effect, transforming industries, driving productivity and innovation, and improving the lives of billions of people. So as the technology reaches a tipping point, what are some of its key uses and early success stories in Asia? And how should organizations in the region prepare to innovate?
Unlock creativity and human potential
The key promise of Generative AI is to simplify virtually any language- or process-driven routine task, supporting the capabilities of humans and freeing up more creative and productive uses of time. Major companies across Asia are starting to explore these possibilities and declare their ambitions. For example, Panasonic Connect introduced an AI virtual assistant for its 12,500 employees in Japan in February 2023. Meanwhile, in India, major online travel company MakeMyTrip (owner of travel apps Goibibo and redBus), introduced booking assisted speech in Indian languages, starting with Hindi, to complement the work of its human agents.
In an IDC survey, about 70% percent of organizations in the Asia-Pacific region say they are exploring or committed to investing in AI technologies. “We believe all business professionals will be using artificial intelligence on a daily basis,” says Hiroki Mukaino, senior manager of IT and digital strategy at Panasonic Connect. « Our choice wasn’t whether to use AI, but when to start using it. »
According to Microsoft 2023 Work trend index, which is based on a survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries, 78% of respondents in the Asia-Pacific region would delegate to AI where possible to reduce workloads. Three out of four admitted that they would be comfortable doing this, not only for administrative tasks but also for some analytical or creative aspect of their role.
The opportunity for developers in Asia is to leverage an innovation tool that has the potential to rapidly have a large and powerful impact. From India to Indonesia, generative AI can be exercised by anyone, whether they work for a large company, a startup or as a freelancer. Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of AI platform at Microsoft, describes the powerful ability of Azure OpenAI to generate and summarize content, produce code and reason from collected data. “These four use cases are the dominant ones,” he says. « We’re just scratching the surface of the types of applications we can see. »
Technological forerunners in Asia
Organizations piloting Generative AI expect or are already experiencing tangible results. For example, a Panasonic Connect, the implementation of ConnectAI, built on the Microsoft Azure OpenAI platform, is simplifying tasks that can consume a worker’s day, such as drafting emails, gathering information and writing code. Now, employees simply type a natural language question to get help. Currently, the platform registers 5,000 applications per day. Panasonic Connect CEO Yasuyuki Higuchi even used the tool to draft a welcome speech for new employees. In the future, « humans will focus on highly advanced jobs, rather than fairly simple jobs, » says Higuchi. « I think it is necessary. »
While the impacts are thus far anecdotal, benefits cited by employees include being able to read a summary of a lengthy legal document in 10 minutes rather than the full version in an hour. In the IT and digital department, responses to IT employee surveys are collected in an hour instead of an entire week. This potential to improve workforce productivity is particularly vital in Japan, where nearly a third of the population is over 65. Faced with a shortage of workers, Generative AI is a way of « increase employee productivity”, Mukaino said. « AI allows us to focus on creative tasks that only humans can do. »