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Asia-Pacific IT leaders see AI boosting productivity, but face data hurdles
Thu, 8th Feb 2024

New research commissioned by renowned tech firm Salesforce has highlighted an optimistic tone regarding artificial intelligence's (AI) potential for increasing productivity within their organisations among 86% of Information Technology (IT) leaders in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region over the next three years. However, the study also reveals that 69% of businesses are unprepared to harmonise data systems to fully use AI, indicating a potential obstacle in exploiting AI's full capabilities.

The study forms part of Salesforce's MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report 2024, which surveyed 1,050 Chief Information Officers and top-tier IT decision-makers, including 400 from the APAC region across Singapore, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Key findings from the report indicate that a successful AI strategy directly depends on robust data integration solutions, an area where organisations are confronting challenges. At an estimated average, only 28% of apps in APAC organisations are connected, while 82% of IT leaders mentioned that integration hurdles are obstructing their digital transformation initiatives. About 77% of these leaders viewed their existing infrastructure as excessively interconnected, with 69% confessing their organisations are unable to harmonise data systems to exploit AI technologies.

The report suggests AI and automation are critical for relieving the burden on overworking IT teams, underlining that 98% of them are grappling with issues concerning digital transformation. Meanwhile, 31% of global IT teams now prefer Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a significant rise from just 13% in 2021.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), another tech facet, have reportedly contributed to revenue augmentation for 41% of respondents and aided in reducing operational costs by 37%. IT heads affirm that APIs enhance productivity (50%), promote agility and self-service (48%), and assist business teams in meeting their demands (43%).

The report emphasises that successful AI strategies that yield returns and drive business value depend on unifying and integrating data. It points out that a significant 89% surge is expected in the average number of LLMs that IT leaders in the APAC region will utilise in the next three years, which is significantly higher than the 69% global projection. It further highlights that 88% of the organisations surveyed already employ multiple predictive and generative AI models.

However, the report reveals that despite AI's potential for enhancing efficiency and productivity, data integration issues pose a barrier to its adoption. Trust and security concerns also impact its deployment, with 64% of IT leaders revealing worries regarding ethical AI usage and adoption.

Brian Kealey, Vice President, APAC, MuleSoft, commented on the results: "The potential of AI is limited only by the data organisations can connect it to, and the outcomes they can drive from it. The report shows that IT leaders across APAC are increasingly aware of these integration and automation challenges and underscores the need for a robust data strategy, with a focus on data currency, reuse, and access."

Kurt Anderson, Managing Director and API Transformation Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, also opined on this matter: "A lack of integration is the top barrier to adopting emerging technologies, especially AI. And as demand grows for seamless, personalised customer experiences, the interoperability of systems is crucial for harnessing the full potential of data, AI, and automation."