94 percent of ASEAN+ Chief Investment Officers deem artificial intelligence (AI) critical for business in 2024, but only 11 percent invest in generative AI (GenAI), Lenovo study showed Tuesday.

The ‘CIO Playbook 2024 – It’s all about Smarter AI’ report, which is providing an overview of AI adoption in Asia-Pacific (AP), revealed that organizations in AP are planning to increase AI spending by 45 percent in 2024 compared to 2023.

The study also noted the massive shift in CIO priorities from last year with AI topping the list.

Notably, revenue and profit growth have shifted from the top priority in 2023 to number #3 in 2024, while customer experience and satisfaction have surged two spots to come in the top 2 priorities.

This underscores a strategic shift towards cutting-edge innovations and a customer-centric approach in the evolving business landscape.

However, divergence emerges between business leaders and CIOs on AI technologies.

Business leaders want to prioritize GenAI to enhance customer experience and drive outcomes, while CIOs express cautious optimism.

Ranking GenAI as the 3rd tech priority, ASEAN+ CIOs are prioritizing AI technologies that address security,
infrastructure, and cyber resiliency, said the study.

“The AI Playbook echoes what we have been hearing from the customers. CIOs across ASEAN+ are most confident about AI, with 94 percent expressing certainty that it will create a competitive advantage, and 51 percent of them consider it to be a game changer for their organizations,

“Higher investments in GenAI and machine learning followed by deep learning systems underscore their desire to elevate operational efficiency, security, decision-making processes, and customer experiences,” said Kumar Mitra, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) CAP (Central Asia Pacific) Managing Director.

According to the study, CIOs across India (28 percent) and Korea (33 percent) lead in GenAI investments in AP, followed by ASEAN+ (11 percent), Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) (2 percent), and Japan (2 percent).

A significant portion of the spending for GenAI in ASEAN+ will be directed towards the infrastructure needed to host applications.

Security and intellectual property (IP) are key concerns for ASEAN+ enterprises embracing GenAI.

Among the ASEAN+ CIOs surveyed, adoption and deployment challenges were observed.

High dependence on third parties (40 percent), monitoring AI misuse/Hallucinations (incorrect predictions) and security (38 percent each) are top three concerns for CIOs in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Lack of requisite training in AI automation tools (57 percent) and job security (50 percent) are key pain points for CIOs in Singapore.

Furthermore, the survey reveals that AP companies will adopt a balanced approach to AI workload deployment.

On average, 31 percent of AI workloads will be deployed on the public cloud, 28 percent on the private cloud, and an
additional 28 percent on hybrid cloud solutions.

“Additionally, the allocation of 13 percent of AI workloads at traditional data centers signifies a growing recognition of the importance of edge computing, bringing AI capabilities closer to the source of data generation,” said Scott Tease, Vice President, high-performance computing (HPC) and AI, Lenovo.

At the same time, 68 percent of CIOs in Singapore are already using AI to enhance their security framework with 25 percent planning to invest.

“In our AI journey, collaboration is key across our ecosystem,

“With domain experts ensuring relevance and clear
communication, we’re transforming the customer experience,” said Sumir Bhatia, President, AP, Lenovo ISG.

According to the study, the AI platform market in ASEAN is growing at a 40 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with the financial services, manufacturing, and government sectors emerging as the top spenders.

In addition to traditional AI use cases like fraud detection and quality inspection, horizontal use cases such as search/ knowledge management, cybersecurity, chatbots, and AIOps are experiencing significant growth.

While Singapore is a mature market for AI, scaling AI initiatives to deliver return on investment across multiple business functions remains a challenge.

The study also showed a 28 percent year on year jump in ASEAN+ and a 25 percent increase in spending on Edge technology across AP.

With Edge devices set to generate large volumes of real-time data, new use cases for AI models will emerge.

Accordingly, Singapore CIOs feel real-time analytics (48 percent) and retail and customer experience (42 percent) use cases will experience the most significant impact from AI.

CIOs report that the top technology challenge for AI is GenAI’s reliance on extensive datasets, a resource most
organizations lack.

In terms of business challenges, job security and lack of requisite AI skills tops concerns for information technology (IT) employees in mature markets.

“Planning, assessing return of investment (ROI), and having the required data sets and teams are crucial for AI projects,

“AI Singapore plays a vital role in building skills through
apprenticeship programs and creating a talent pipeline
framework to address the global AI skills shortage,” said Laurence Liew, Director – AI Innovation, Singapore.

According to the study, most available operational AI jobs, notably in DataOps (75 percent), SecOps, and DevOps (75 percent) remain accessible and relevant, representing key entry points as organizations continue their AI journey.

Yet 45 percent of AP and a concerning 52 percent of ASEAN+ and 60 percent of Singapore enterprises (highest in AP) struggle to hire for AI-related positions, more than doubling the usual hiring effort.

This talent gap compels organizations to pivot towards internal solutions, emphasizing the imperative to upskill existing employees.

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