Embracing AI in business is urgent, says exec

Lito Tayag, country managing director of Accenture PH, explains the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for businesses during a video conference with Cebu media at Robinsons Cybergate on Feb. 7, 2018.
CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON

There is now an urgent need for businesses and organizations in Cebu to employ more intelligent technologies in their operations, an official in the industry said.

Lito Tayag, country managing director of Accenture Philippines, said Cebu is lagging behind as the rest of the world embraces artificial intelligence (AI) technologies as well as proper human-machine collaboration in doing business.

“Technology is a way to improve business. However, many are lagging behind. Our Cebu business counterparts have lower appreciation of this urgency compared to those in our study,” he said in a video conference yesterday at the Accenture office at Robinsons Cybergate.

Tayag shared results of a global study conducted by Accenture with 14,078 workers across skill levels and generations and 1,201 business leaders in 11 countries, including USA, UK, Japan, Spain, China and France, between September to November 2017.

Results of the study showed that both workers and business leaders remain optimistic about the potential of AI on business results and work experiences. Seventy-two percent of the business leaders surveyed said that AI will be critical to differentiate themselves from the markets they serve.

Also, 54 percent of the business leaders believe that human-machine collaboration is important in achieving their strategic priorities.

On the other hand, majority or 69 percent of the workers surveyed said it is important for them to develop skills to work with intelligent machines.
But Tayag said their “Cebu colleagues in the business have lower appreciation of the imperative of moving into the new.”

In the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO survey, results showed that only 35 percent of business leaders consider technology as a way of achieving their company’s strategic plan. Meanwhile, 48 percent of the 108 Cebu CEOs surveyed by PwC Philippines or Isla Lipana & Co. said they feel threatened by the speed of technological advancements.

This is why, Tayag said, it is urgent that businesses should start taking immediate steps to pivot their workforce and equip them with skills to work together with intelligent technologies, as shown by the results of Accenture’s global study.

The Accenture strategy report, titled “Reworking the Revolution: Are you ready to compete as intelligent technology meets human ingenuity to create the future workforce,” estimates that if businesses invest in AI and human-machine collaboration, they could boost revenues by 38 percent, and raise employment levels by 10 percent by 2022.

But the study also found an interesting gap between acceptance of the need for human-machine collaboration and the need to invest on it.

While 54 percent of the business leaders say that human-machine collaboration is important to their strategic priorities, the study found that only three percent of these business leaders say that their organization plans to significantly increase its investment in re-tooling their workers in the next three years.

In order to bridge this gap, the global management consulting firm gave three recommendations to help business leaders shape their workforce in the age of AI — reimagine work, pivot the workforce, and scale up “new skilling.”

Reimagining work, Tayag said, involves reassessing the entire workflow so that work is allocated between machines and people while balancing the need for automation and augmentation.

Pivoting the workforce means preparing the workforce to create new customer experiences and creating leaders at all levels in more autonomous working env ironment.

Lastly, scaling up “new skilling,” according to Tayag, means measuring the level of skills and willingness to learn to work with AI among their workforce. It also involves retraining the work force to improve new skills adoption.

Tayag said Accenture has been doing this all over their operations around the world.

He said they allocate 60 percent of their savings from automation and the use of intelligent technologies for skills redevelopment of their workforce.

In the Philippines, Tayag said they are also doing partnerships with the academe to spark interest in technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, as well as conducting trainings for the workforce entering the IT-BPM (Information Technology-Business Process Management) industry.

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