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HK leaders must upskill to ensure wider AI adoption

A recent study by a major American tech firm revealed that Hong Kong’s artificial intelligence (AI) journey is ahead of the rest of Asia Pacific in terms of investment and data, reportedly.

However, the region is slightly behind in terms of culture.

Despite the overall positive outlook on AI’s impact on the future of jobs, most Hong Kong business leaders do not possess the skills they will need in three years, the study finds.

The top three future skills required by management level respondents in Hong Kong are quantitative, analytical and statistical skills, digital skills, and an adaptable and continuous learning mindset.

If leaders do not upskill themselves within three years, their current skills such as general equipment operation, mechanical skills, basic data input and processing, communication and negotiation tactics will be obsolete; while the skills they lack now such as adaptability and continuous learning, digital skills, IT skills and programming would become their competitive edge.

Respondents from management levels who are adopting AI face three top challenges: lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programmes, lack of thought leadership and leadership commitment to investing in AI; and lack of advanced analytics or adequate infrastructure and tools to develop actionable insights.

To accelerate a person’s AI journey, businesses have to create the right organisational culture. A significant proportion of business leaders and a majority of workers surveyed believe that cultural traits that support AI journeys, such as risk-taking, proactive innovation, as well as cross-function partnerships among teams, are not prevalent today.

The Vice President for Customer Research and Consulting Operations at a firm that provides research and investing information services noted that organisations’ management should make AI a core part of their strategy and develop a learning agility culture. They have to continuously invest in this transformative technology for long-term success, sometimes without immediate returns.

With 74% of the management level respondents polled agreed that AI is instrumental to their organisation’s competitiveness, 40% of organisations in Hong Kong have already embarked on their AI journeys.

Boosting AI in Hong Kong

The same study noted that by 2021, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will allow the rate of innovation and employee productivity improvements in Hong Kong to more than double (X2.3 times respectively).

The General Manager of the HK branch of the tech firm noted that currently, every company is a software company, and increasingly, every interaction is digital. To be successful in this new world, organizations need to be a fast adopter of best-in-class technology; and secondly, they need to build their own unique digital capabilities.

Moreover, AI is the defining technology of the current era, significantly accelerating business transformation, enabling innovation, boosting employee productivity, and ensuring further growth. Economies and businesses that have yet to embark on their AI journey run a real risk of missing out on the competitive benefits that are enjoyed by leaders.

The study found that Hong Kong business leaders and workers hold positive viewpoints about the AI’s impact on the future of jobs. More than half (58% of business leaders and 68% of workers) believe that AI will either help to do their existing jobs better or reduce repetitive tasks.

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