More than three-quarters (76%) of business leaders in the manufacturing sector agree that artificial intelligence (AI) will boost their competitiveness in the next three years.
This was revealed in a new study, “Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth with AI,” conducted by Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific.
The business leaders also estimate that AI initiatives will nearly double their competitiveness (1.8 times) during the same period.
“Manufacturers in Asia-Pacific are slowly, but surely, seeing the importance of adopting a digital strategy and latest technologies,” affirmed Scott Hunter, Regional Business Lead, Manufacturing, Microsoft Asia, in a media statement during the release of the report on April 1.
“To achieve supply chain excellence, and even develop new business models to address changing customers’ needs, integrating AI for their business is a must. Organizations which fail to adopt an AI-first strategy risk being left behind in today’s competitive market landscape,” he said.
Hunter noted, however, that 59% of manufacturers have not adopted AI as part of their business today, which he said is a “worrying sign for the industry that needs to thrive on innovation.”
Manufacturers that have started their AI journeys are already seeing business improvements in the range of 17% to 24% today, and further improvements are anticipated in three years by at least 1.7 times, according to the study.
The biggest jumps are expected in driving accelerate innovation (2.0 times), and higher margins (1.9 times).
A positive impact on jobs
The good news is that the majority of business leaders and workers in the sector believe that AI will have a positive impact on their jobs — 62% of business leaders and 77% of workers believe AI will either help do their current jobs better or reduce repetitive tasks.
However, the skills required for an AI future are in shortage, from the business leaders’ perspective.
The demand for basic data processing, literacy and numeracy and general equipment operations and mechanical skills will decrease in three years.
But communication and negotiation skills, entrepreneurship and initiative-taking as well as adaptability and continuous learning are the top three skills identified in which demand will outstrip supply in the next three years.
“Business leaders are aware of the massive reskilling efforts required to build an AI ready workforce,” shared Hunter. “However, 22% of business leaders felt that workers have no interest to reskill, but only 8% of workers feel the same.”
In addition, he said 48% of business leaders feel that workers do not have enough time to reskill, but only 34% feel the same way.
“Business leaders in this space must prioritize reskilling and upskilling,” he concluded.