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Data and artificial intelligence in New Zealand's journey from crises to recovery

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At our annual Theta Executive Luncheon, Louise Francis, Country Manager and Research Director at IDC New Zealand, presented NZ's digital journey to the next normal. With such rapid technological, behavioural and societal shifts in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly caused accelerated change. And it's not the only crisis to have done this; nor will it be the last. Using the term 'crises' encapsulates the bigger picture of events that can cause global disruption, including what we've experienced with COVID-19.

We could never have imagined the external shock and uncertainty caused by the impact of COVID-19. IDC's 2020 survey results show how the disruption has impacted on predictions, priorities and plans. We'll share some of these key findings below. 

Accelerated disruption

By 2021, IDC predicts that the crisis will drive 75% of G2000 companies to discard existing decision models and focus on new frameworks for decision environments. In subsequent years, forecasts indicate that AI-driven emotional intelligence will be used in 90% of real-time digital customer interactions (2023) and AIOps will become the norm – adopted by 50% of large enterprises (2024).

Accelerated disruption is happening, and we're all in the midst of it.  

From distraught to determined

There's a fascinating data picture from this year too.

By October 2020, 49% of what IDC defines as digitally distraught organisations were still caught in the business continuity and cost optimisation stages of the crisis recovery and only 28% had reached the recovery stages (targeted investment and future enterprise). In contrast, businesses that were identified by IDC as digitally 'determined' were 28% still in the crisis/optimisation stages and 45% had already returned to growth; adapting to a new normal much faster than their 'distraught' peers.

 

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Organisations with high levels of resilience fared better than others. The ability to analyse, adapt and remain agile was crucial.

Budget shifts

71% of New Zealand organisations told IDC "we are aggressively seeking out emerging technology to create advantage or looking to be early adopters of new technologies". The future enterprise is becoming centred around resilience, empathy and intelligence: creating empathy with customers at scale was identified by 49% of respondents.

 

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AI, ML, analytics and contactless "everything"

38% of large NZ firms who use AI have an embedded enterprise-wide strategy, but only 11% have redesigned business models repeatedly to create new business value.

With 77% of organisations reporting that "the pandemic exposed gaps in our AI and ML Models", it's a challenging area to tackle (and one that also has a skills shortage). Organisations are looking toward empathy at scale for AI customer experience: 53% of large firms (worldwide) report AI CX as the #1 business driver for AI deployment. In other words, there's a desire to understand and predict customers' mindsets and create a more human interaction.

Unsurprisingly, big data and analytics continue to be a focus area for improving work productivity and efficiency, closely followed by AI/ML.

What about the rise of contactless tech?

77.8% reported that "we have converted/augmented business processes to support contactless engagement." A development that 2020 has certainly augmented and accelerated.  

AI in 2026

A glimpse into the future of AI by IDC provides food for thought.

With artificial general intelligence/AGI (robust humanlike decision making); Swarm Intelligence solutions (collective intelligence of humans, machines at the edge and endpoint devices); and AutoML & Machine Learning Operations/MLOps (the MLOps toolchain for all practitioners involved in machine learning lifecycle), there's an exciting road ahead over the next few years.

Future survival

Many organisations have taken on the challenge of rapidly transforming to survive the COVID crisis. For those who haven't, they might be OK for now. Survival in the next global challenge, however, is another story. 

References

IDC Worldwide COVID-19 IT Impact Surveys, May-November, 2020: New Zealand Results

IDC Worldwide FutureScape: Chief Marketing Officer 2021 Predications

IDC Worldwide FutureScape: Future of Intelligence 2021 Predictions

IDC Worldwide FutureScape: AI 2021 Predictions