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Innovation

Clear value in AI, but consumer concerns must be addressed, study shows

The vast majority of Australian businesses see clear value in artificial intelligence, and many plan to increase their AI budgets by significant amounts, but new research suggests firms must consider consumers’ ethical concerns around data management and security.

In a new international study of consumers and large companies (1000 employees or more) in the US, UK and Australia, 93 per cent of Australian consumers said organisations should be able to explain how they use personal data, and 92 per cent said maintaining trust during personalised digital experiences was important.

The study, which was commissioned by WP Enginge and conducted by researchers The University of London and Vanson Bourne, shows that values like transparency, trust and humanness are vital for organisations to truly capitalise on the benefits of AI.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of businesses say AI is already having a measurable impact on their bottom line.

Ninety-one per cent of Australian business respondents said AI helps them optimise efficiency, and 86 per cent said it allows them to improve customer service. Nearly half (49.3 per cent) said they saw a visible increase in sales volume after implementing AI.

Since these benefits are so pervasive, it comes as no surprise that 34 per cent of business respondents said they were planning to increase their AI budgets by 50-75 per cent. That is on top of a base of more than $1 million a year spent on AI by the majority of enterprises surveyed (72 per cent).

But the study also showed that businesses are concerned about the use of AI when making tough ethical decisions. Forty-five per cent of Australian respondents believe bias in AI could cause unequal representation of minorities, though 54 per cent believe it is an opportunity to overcome human bias.

“The degree of long-term benefits AI will bring to an enterprise’s digital initiatives is deeply linked with the importance of aligning brand values with a core set of ethical decision-making values,” said Mark Randall, WP engine’s country manager for Australia and New Zealand, said.

“The Australian brands who successfully integrate the revenue-driving power of AI with the trust, safety, and values customers expect will be successful in creating winning, powerful digital experiences.”

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