Malaysian knowledge workers use artificial intelligence (AI) more than their global counterparts, a report said Thursday.

Microsoft Corp and LinkedIn said in their 2024 Work Trend Index, a joint report on the state of AI at work, that 84 percent of knowledge workers in Malaysia (versus 75 percent globally) now use AI at work.

Struggling to keep up with the pace and volume of work, employees say AI saves time, boosts creativity, and allows them to focus on their most important work.

While 88% of the Malaysian leaders believe their company needs to adopt AI to stay competitive, 66 percent worry their organization’s leadership lacks a plan and vision to implement it.

So, employees are taking things into their own hands, with 83 percent of Malaysian AI users are bringing their own tools to work—Bring Your Own AI (BYOAI) — missing out on the benefits that come from strategic AI use at scale and putting company data at risk.

The opportunity for every leader is to channel this momentum into return of investment (ROI), said the report.

It is noted that an AI power user can be defined as someone who uses the technology several times a week, saving 30 minutes of work daily.

In Malaysia, 85 percent of power users frequently start their day with AI, while another 82 percent use it to plan for the following workday.

AI power users in Malaysia are 50 percent more likely to have heard about the importance of generative AI from their Chief Executive Officer, however only 22 percent are more likely to receive tailored AI training for their specific role or function.

To empower power users, senior leaders must lean in, provide tailored training, whilst company culture is change-ready, said the report.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of Malaysian leaders say they’d rather hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate who lacked them.

It is noted that as of late last year, the market has seen 142 times increase in members globally adding AI skills like ChatGPT and Copilot to their LinkedIn profiles while AI mentions in LinkedIn job posts drive a 17 percent bump in application growth.

According to the report, 2024 is the year of AI at work, with the use of generative AI in the workplace nearly doubled in the last six months.

LinkedIn is also seeing a significant increase in professionals adding AI skills to their profiles, and most leaders say they wouldn’t hire someone without AI skills.

However, with many leaders in Malaysia worried that their company lacks an AI vision and with employees bringing their own AI tools to work, leaders have reached the hard part of any tech disruption: moving from experimentation to tangible business impact.

“The pace of diffusion of generative AI is remarkable and we are seeing a promising trend with AI adoption among our customers in Malaysia too,

“The 2024 Work Trend Index revealed that 84 percent of Malaysian knowledge workers are already using AI at work to stay productive, save time, and be more creative – and they are not pausing for the rollout of a coherent AI vision and roadmap from their organizations. With AI becoming a business imperative, leaders must demonstrate more appetite for rapid experimentation to business transformation,” said K Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.

Rohit Kalsy, Head of Sales, Emerging Markets, Southeast Asia, LinkedIn, said that as Malaysia experiences a significant transformation in the workplace driven by AI, businesses are recognizing the necessity for a new talent strategy.

“In an era where the talent landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace, leaders who focus on agility and invest in skills development to cultivate an AI-ready workforce will hold a competitive advantage,” he said.

According to him, in Malaysia, 62 percent of business leaders would not hire someone without AI skills, while 65 percent would rather hire someone who is less experienced but possesses AI skills than someone without.

“This underscores that AI competency is no longer an ‘X’ factor but a necessity in today’s workplace. This past year has indicated that professionals are aware of the need to adequately upskill themselves for the age of AI – we have seen a record number of learners undertaking the top AI courses on LinkedIn since January 2023 across Southeast Asia, Australia, and India,” he added.

It is noted that prominent organizations like Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) and Johor Corporation (JCorp) are leading the way in adopting Microsoft Copilot and other AI tools to drive cultural and business transformation.

The report is based on a survey of 31,000 people across 31 countries, labor and hiring trends on LinkedIn, trillions of Microsoft 365 productivity signals and research with Fortune 500 customers.

Malaysia’s AI governance and ethics code framework at final stage, will be launched soon – report