Flaviano Faleiro
Jul 10, 2024

Here's why AI is not just a flash in the pan

Hype cycles around new tech advancements—such as the metaverse and VR—have left many users feeling unsatisfied over the years. But here's why AI is an anomaly, argues Accenture Song's Flaviano Faleiro.

Bionic robots are on display during the 2024 World AI Conference (Getty Images)
Bionic robots are on display during the 2024 World AI Conference (Getty Images)

First, it was ChatGPT, and then it was Sora. From battleships duelling in a coffee cup to papercraft marine life to a neon-drenched Tokyo street, this felt like another landmark moment in AI’s remarkably rapid growth journey.

Across Asia Pacific (APAC), businesses and consumers alike are watching. At the end of last year, the World Economic Forum estimated that generative AI will add $76 billion to the Australian economy by 2030 and unlock as much as $1.1 trillion to Japan’s productive capacity. Accenture’s Life Trends 2024 report has also found that 81% of people in APAC are ‘familiar’ with conversational AI. We are witnessing the early tremors of a technological, societal, and economic earthquake.

To a large extent, the economic potential of generative AI, combined with its near-unprecedented mass market awareness, has brought about a fizz of excitement and positivity around the technology. But the whole reality is a lot more complicated than that. The ability to face this reality could prove the difference between the businesses that ride the wave of AI’s potential and those that will be swept underneath it.  

At the root of the problem is a growing unease: Many people feel technology is happening to them rather than for them. For instance, almost a third (31%) of APAC consumers said that technology “complicates life just as much as it simplifies it". Breathless proclamations about the potential of AI are being heard in a context where nearly half (45%) of APAC consumers already feel that technology is “moving at an overwhelming pace".

As a result, consumers are becoming more wary of technology and changing how they use it. Thirty-six percent of APAC consumers said it was “more important than ever to apply critical thinking regarding what technology to use, and how". 

We should be honest about how we arrived here to break away from cynicism and make the most out of generative AI’s undoubted potential. Repeated, formulaic hype cycles around technology innovations have damaged the logical link between technological progress and societal advancement. Rightly or wrongly, too many tech promises are seen to have been hollow. And perhaps that’s understandable. After all, we’re not yet meeting up for dinner in the metaverse and VR remains stubbornly outside of the mass market.

Whether all of those perceived disappointments are fair and accurate is up for debate. But what’s undeniable is that the repeated hype cycles have left too many individuals feeling like passengers riding technological advancements.

Businesses have a significant role to play in remedying this problem. Most APAC consumers expect companies to address their evolving needs during disruptions. And AI is most certainly a disruption.

If individuals seek to re-establish control over their relationships with technology, let’s empower them. This will require a new harmony where technology supports users rather than dominates them and offers diverse interaction options.

In other words, businesses must lead in re-establishing the link between technology and progress. Let's focus on value when we talk about generative AI and its potential. How is this going to make peoples’ lives better? Let’s be clear, for example, about how AI is transforming the internet from informative to intelligent and the experience of using it from transactional to personal. Already, people are replacing traditional search engines with generative AI internet search-bots like Microsoft Bing Chat, or augmenting the search experience with Google Search Generative Experience, which can provide AI-powered overviews and responses to people’s answers.

Because of AI, we will all be more digitally understood than ever before but leaders should not assume that consumers will automatically buy into the idea that this is a good thing. The rapid pace of technological innovation demands careful decision-making now. We will need to prove it to them to ensure success and growth.

In navigating AI's role in delivering meaningful customer experiences, leaders must recognise its broader implications beyond mere innovation, aligning with evolving human behaviours and expectations. One day, every connected person could have their own AI companion that can predict their preferences based on past choices and become the mediator between them and the internet. This represents potential transformation in how machines hear and understand people, and unfolds a more significant opportunity for businesses to build an experience of the world that’s highly personalised to people.

Ultimately, businesses need to meet our audiences where they are, underlining that we understand their concerns around the pace of technological change and giving reasoned assurance that AI-driven transformations will be positive ones. In other words, be responsible and relevant.

To say that this is a technological revolution is an incomplete definition. At its heart, this is also a revolution of humanity. Any business looking to leverage AI to achieve growth – and it’s hard to think of any who shouldn’t be – must accept that human connection is one of the most vital tools in their arsenal.

The transformative potential of AI and its ability to drive growth represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity. But businesses won’t grasp that opportunity unless they find a way to fit their vision for AI into consumers’ lives and expectations as they exist today. People are currently looking at AI with wary curiosity. The successful businesses of tomorrow will reward that curiosity with value, positivity and enhancement.

Flaviano Faleiro is the growth markets president at Accenture Song

Campaign Asia

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