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'State of AI in NZ' report reveals risk of businesses falling behind

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand’s largest data specialist business, Qrious, has today released the inaugural State of AI in New Zealand report - providing the most complete picture yet of the extent of AI adoption across the country, and highlighting the need for kiwi businesses to mature their practices to avoid being left behind on the global stage.

Produced by Qrious in partnership with Spark, the AI Forum, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the report contains findings from a nationwide survey conducted in May with decision-makers and analytics leaders across corporate, government and tertiary domains, and establishes a framework for building our nation’s AI maturity.

The report found that just one in five organisations have gone beyond AI trials and currently have the ability to achieve scale and impact from using AI technology, deeming them AI mature. This is reflective of the fact that only 7% are engaging in core practices that support widespread AI adoption; and only one in six organisations having a plan for how AI will be used across their business in the short term.

The overwhelming sentiment in the report shows that an AI plan is simply a ‘work in progress’ with majority of businesses surveyed saying they are still in initial trial stages, having only run ad-hoc pilots or applied AI to a single business process. That finding, coupled with the statistic of 17% saying they have not considered implementing AI at all, shows why New Zealand lags behind AI early adopter countries, like the USA and Canada - with just 27% of our organisations trialing AI compared to their 52%.

Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, Dr David Clark, who has responsibility for the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), welcomes the report: "One of the core priorities of the ITP is the creation of an AI Strategy for Aotearoa and this report contains information the government can now use to help inform that plan. The development of the AI ecosystem supports the government’s vision of a more productive, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient economy. That has never been more crucial as we look to the post-Covid world", he says.

Spark CEO, Jolie Hodson, echoed these sentiments, saying the report is timely as New Zealand businesses continue to navigate Covid-19 and the rapid digitisation it has brought with it. "Covid-19 created a burning platform for digital adoption, and has seen an acceleration in the shift from physical to digital across Aotearoa. This pace of change is only going to increase, particularly as businesses look to improve efficiencies and adapt their operations to support our transition to a low-carbon economy. AI is a key enabler of this kind of change, from small scale improvements to existing business processes, right through to complete transformations - and this report provides us with a roadmap for building AI maturity in New Zealand," she says.

Qrious Acting CEO, Stephen Ponsford, says: "While Kiwi businesses have shown resilience in a period where the economy has evolved faster than it has before, pressure will only continue to build. AI needs to be part of the toolkit businesses use to be more productive and work smarter. The findings in the report are clear - businesses need to do some hard mahi to increase their AI capabilities. However, with AI having the potential to increase New Zealand GDP by as much as an estimated $54 billion by

2035 across 18 different industriesi, the opportunity is presenting itself now and we are in the prime position to use the progress made in digitisation to maximise the benefits of AI and fuel our recovery.

"By introducing AI, businesses can analyse data and gain insights faster, automate processes that were resource intensive, and make better business decisions using the power of predictive analytics."

The report shows that 87% of organisations that use AI improve existing products and services, 94% create competitive advantage, and 87% of respondents saw an increase in enriching the customer experience.

Ponsford goes on to say: "The report’s findings support this with organisations using AI outperforming rival technologies in matters of efficiency alone by 81%. That also means cost-savings for Kiwi businesses, something that has never been more important as they look to fuel post-Covid growth. Ensuring that Kiwi organisations have the support they need to be at the forefront of this growth, means bringing together the necessary mix of technology, paired with our number 8 wire mentality

to create a vibrant, inclusive, productive economy underpinned by AI technologies. I encourage businesses to take small steps into AI adoption and start today.

For organisations wanting a copy of the report, go to www.qrious.co.nz/state-of-ai-in-nz-2021

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