South Africa is not prepared for the coming change of Artificial Intelligence

According to a research report titled "Artificial Intelligence - Is South Africa Ready", in 5 years’ time, more than half of consumers and enterprise clients will select products and services based on a company’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), instead of the company’s more traditional “brand”. The report, published by Accenture also suggests that in 7 years’ time, most interfaces will not have a screen and will be integrated into daily tasks.

Accenture says it found that in South Africa an estimated 78% of executives say they need to boost their organization’s competitiveness by innovating through investments in AI technologies.

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Download "Artificial Intelligence - Is South Africa Ready" report.

“South African companies need to shape their own journeys towards becoming responsible users and creators of AI. This will require an understanding of our unique business and economic environments, as well as finding relevant partner for this endeavour,” said Karthik Venkataraman, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation at Accenture.

There are several obstacles to South Africa being ready for AI according to the research conducted by Accenture. The report suggests that one of those obstacles is that organizations are often weighed down by legacy infrastructure, technologies, systems, business models and outdated corporate structuring. Another reason presented is that South Africa's workforce is not yet ready for the AI revolution already underway in other parts of the world because they are likely concerned that AI may affect their jobs and even worsen income inequality.

“If South Africa embraces AI, we can create jobs, grow the economy and improve productivity. All very relevant given our current economic climate. AI can open up opportunities to create new value, reinforcing how people drive growth in business. It can also help people be more productive – by some estimates, leading to a 40% increase in labour productivity by 2035.” said Rory Moore, Innovation Lead for Accenture in South Africa.

The report suggests that in order to prepare South Africa – and South African companies – for AI, policymakers must play a critical role.

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