- No increase in percentage of businesses using AI
- Using AI in safe and secure way remains a concern
- AI adopters more likely to report profitability increase
The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies among businesses across the Asia-Pacific region appears to have stalled, despite the considerable publicity around products like ChatGPT.
That’s one of the key findings from CPA Australia’s third annual Business Technology Report which asked hundreds of accounting and finance professionals from a variety of industries across the region about their employer’s use of digital technologies over the last 12 months.
It found that the number of businesses that have used AI in the preceding 12 months remained static. The survey data also shows that companies that do adopt the new digital technologies are generally more profitable.
“Our engagement with members indicates that lots of businesses and professionals have experimented with generative AI tools in recent times. However, many are still unsure about how they can use AI in a safe and secure way,” said Senior Manager Business Investment Policy at CPA Australia, Gavan Ord.
“It’s very fashionable to talk about using AI tools like ChatGPT. But the reality is that most small and medium-sized businesses are still considering how to integrate them. In other cases, they don’t have the resources to use them properly or maybe they just don’t feel like they need them.
“We encourage businesses to embrace the latest technologies, but only if they are right for them and their circumstances. It’s all well and good having a flux capacitor, but sometimes the DeLorean is all you need.”
The survey was conducted between May and July 2023 across the Asia-Pacific. We received responses from 697 participants in finance and accounting positions across a range of sectors, including banking, insurance and professional services. About one third of respondents hold C-suite or other senior level positions.
We found that 55 per cent of businesses across the Asia-Pacific region have used AI tools, such as chatbots, in the last 12 months. Surprisingly given the recent attention paid to AI tools like ChatGPT, that percentage is unchanged from last year’s report.
However, we found a significant difference in AI adoption when it comes to business size. Sixty-eight per cent of businesses with 500 or more employees have used AI in the last 12 months. This compares to 48 per cent of businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and the same percentage for those with fewer than 50 staff.
Ord observed that: “Our experience is that in many cases AI tools have become ubiquitous, such as basic predictive text tools in email and messenger products. It’s much less likely to involve the kinds of next-gen AI that we often see highlighted in the media.”
AI use also varies notably across different markets. The percentage of survey respondents who say their business uses AI has dropped year-on-year in Australia (from 49 to 41 per cent) and New Zealand (from 56 to 51 per cent). However, the percentage of business using AI has grown in Mainland China (from 58 to 69 per cent) and Malaysia (from 48 to 53 per cent).
Whatever their size, businesses that use AI appear to be performing better. Among respondents from businesses that reported an increase in profitability over the last 12 months, 64 per cent used AI in some form. In comparison, of those that reported their profitability remained largely the same or shrank, AI usage was 52 per cent.
“The real question businesses should be asking themselves is, ‘How could AI help me commercially’? The evidence suggests that where it’s being used, it generally proves successful.”
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