Automation will unburden the average Australian of two hours of the most tedious and manual work a week by 2030, according to a recent study by strategy advisory firm AlphaBeta. The net result of this automation could result in a $2.2 trillion boost to Australia’s national income. Unfortunately, the same study reveals that Australian firms lag far behind their global counterparts when it comes to implementing automation, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In fact, 50% fewer Australian firms are engaged in automation compared to leading countries, such as the U.S. and Sweden.

The report — which defines automation as the process of using machines to perform tasks that would otherwise be done by humans– includes both physical and software-based processes. Even with those loose parameters, only 9% of Australia’s listed companies are making sustained investments in automation, compared with more than 20% in the U.S. and nearly 14% in leading automation nations globally.

Other reports provide an equally grim portrait of Australian AI adoption, including a survey of 200 Australian businesses conducted by research firm House of Brand, which revealed that only 14% had adopted AI, compared with the global average of 23%.

The AI Challenge for Australia

The House of Brand survey found that companies cited security, lack of available talent, low levels of leadership support, and the lack of a clear business case as the primary reasons for Australian AI apathy.

The lack of AI interest is even more surprising when you consider all of the benefits that automation has already produced for Australian businesses and organizations. Since 2000, tasks that have been automated by Australian firms have seen a dramatic increase in freeing up human labor to perform more unique and human-focused tasks. For example: In 2000, automatable activities, such as a doctor sifting through piles of scanned images to detect a tumour, would take up 14 hours (or 40%) of a typical 35-hour week, the AlphaBeta report states. By 2015, the share of automatable tasks declined to 11.9 hours (or 34%) per week. In that time, the report finds that Australian workers replaced automatable tasks with higher-value personalized interactions, such as talking to patients, negotiating with clients, or conferencing with colleagues.

Clearly Australian firms that have automated business processes are benefitting from their initiatives, despite the general resistance to AI and machine learning adoption reflected in these various surveys and studies. In many cases, the guidance of these pioneering organizations, and the AI experts that worked with them, can help drive late adopters to begin researching deployment options.

Moving to Autonomics and Cognitive AI

We believe IPsoft’s solutions and expertise can help alleviate some of the fears Australian firms have about deploying AI, in terms of security concerns, lack of leadership and skills, and clearly defined business use cases.

Amelia, IPsoft’s digital colleague, can be hired as a first line of defence for an entire business’s security operation. Her ability to detect fraud, stop network attacks, and monitor for business anomalies at scale would require an army of humans working together around the clock. We’ve built security into Amelia’s DNA, both in her abilities and in how she’s deployed. She can be deployed on-premises, providing the most secure deployment option available with fewer points of data transit as Amelia operates with direct links to all necessary data sources. Amelia still interacts with customers and colleagues via the internet, but the number of potential data vulnerabilities that could be accessed by hackers is greatly reduced.

Our managed services team can help companies build the foundational skills and leadership necessary to see deployments through until they’re running optimally, and provide guidance for any issues that arise later on. Not only are we pioneers in the industry, but we’re realistic with our clients about the AI training process, and when they can expect to begin yielding return-on-investment (ROI).

We also recently unveiled our Amelia Marketplace, which offers industry-specific roles for banking, insurance and healthcare, as well as functional cross-industry roles for IT, Finance and Human Resources. Amelia comes pre-trained to fill various industry roles and she can learn additional skills as needed. As a digital colleague, Amelia can be customized to a client’s specifications for look and feel. She can handle end-to-end processes such as payments or credit card processing, and insurance policy selection and management.

Large Australian Firms Have Already Started Investing

Nearly nine in ten (89%) of business leaders at large Australian businesses of more than 1,000 employees and $500 million in annual revenue had rolled out AI in some form, up from 65% last year, according to a survey of C-level executives conducted by IT firm Infosys.

In the survey, 95% of respondents reported measurable gains from their deployments; 59% say they are already planning to increase training in business functions most affected by AI deployments, and nearly half (49%) are looking to redeploy employees to new areas.

Organizations that don’t begin to invest in AI now will find themselves left behind by the early adopters. Innovative firms will have learned and mastered AI processes by the time more passive firms plan their first AI projects. Early adopters who choose the right AI partners will yield the quickest and most significant portions of the $2.2 trillion Australia stands to gain from AI, while late adopters will have no choice but play catch-up.

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