Atlas Lim
Jan 25, 2024

How Asia's AI revolution is helping businesses to redefine CX

Valtech's Atlas Lim shares his observations on the emergence and influence of generative AI on CX, and why it's a catalyst for transformative interactions across China and Southeast Asia.

Photo credit: Valtech website
Photo credit: Valtech website

In this ever-changing digital landscape, I have witnessed the remarkable impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on various industries, particularly design. AI, the buzzword these days, has got brands and companies thinking about its potential growth impact and how to get started on it or risk being left behind.

At Valtech, we recognise the incredible potential of AI to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Before we dive deep into how we can leverage AI for our daily lives, let's first understand how it works and what it is and isn't.

The emergence of Gen AI

AI has a rich history that predates recent breakthroughs like ChatGPT. Its roots are traced back to the early '50s, as depicted in movies like The Imitation Game. One of the pivotal moments in AI research was Alan Turing's proposal of the Turing Test in 1950, which aimed to evaluate a machine's ability to exhibit human-like intelligence. 

The more commonly known and used AI is the Rule-based and Generative AI, which ChatGPT, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion belong to; it is not new, but has gained massive popularity due to increased accessibility to folks like us.

AI's impact on customer experience

In today's digital age, the integration of AI has sparked a revolution in how businesses approach CX across the Asia-Pacific region. AI's ability to analyse vast amounts of data, predict customer behaviour, and personalise interactions has fundamentally altered the landscape of human-computer interaction, especially in China and Southeast Asia.

AI has emerged as a game-changer in enhancing customer experience by providing businesses in Asia-Pacific with unprecedented insights into customer preferences and behaviours. Through advanced algorithms, AI can analyse customer data, both structured and unstructured, to uncover patterns, trends, and correlations that were previously undiscovered. This enables businesses to anticipate customer needs and tailor their offerings accordingly.

As a designer navigating the dynamic digital landscape, I am constantly in awe of AI's impact on our daily lives and, more importantly, on how we approach our craft.

Shopee smart product recommendation

In China and Southeast Asia, AI-driven personalisation is particularly pronounced. E-commerce giants like Alibaba and Lazada utilise AI algorithms to analyse consumer behaviour and offer highly targeted product recommendations. These platforms personalise content, advertisements, and product suggestions, creating a seamless and engaging customer journey that resonates with local tastes and preferences.

Pizzahut Wechat Mini program – Smart restaurant booking

Chatbots and superapps

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are widespread in the Asia-Pacific region. These intelligent systems provide instant support in multiple languages, catering to the diverse linguistic landscape of the area. In China, WeChat's AI-powered chatbots and mini programs handle everything from customer inquiries to financial transactions, creating a frictionless user experience. Similarly, tech companies like TikTok also use AI-powered recommendation engines to push content and live streams further. 

Grab’s ambition to be the one-stop superapp in Asia

Predictive analytics and anticipating needs

The predictive capabilities of AI are harnessed across Asia-Pacific to anticipate customer needs. AI algorithms analyse historical data to forecast consumer preferences, driving personalised marketing campaigns and product recommendations. For instance, the leading SEA ride-hailing app, Grab, uses AI to predict demand patterns, optimise driver allocation and ensure prompt service, provide shorter ride pairing times and increase daily ride counts.

Xiaohongshu’s use AI to integrate content and commerce is becoming a popular platform for brands to integrate its digital strategy in China

Enhancing product and service innovation

AI plays a pivotal role in product and service innovation in China and Southeast Asia. Businesses leverage AI-generated insights to develop offerings that cater to local preferences. In China, AI-powered platforms like Xiaohongshu provide user-generated reviews and recommendations, influencing purchasing decisions. This data-driven approach fosters innovation and ensures that products align with customer expectations.

AI-power real-time translation can be seen in Apps like Grab and Didi, providing better ease of communication between user and driver who don’t speak the same language

Overcoming language and cultural barriers:

The Asia-Pacific's linguistic and cultural diversity presents unique challenges. AI's multilingual and multicultural capabilities help businesses overcome these barriers. Companies use AI to provide language-specific customer support, ensuring customers across countries can interact seamlessly in their preferred languages.

China’s interim measures on generative AI

On August 15, 2023, the Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services came into force, which outlines the policy priority given to AI by the People’s Republic of China. With the country already building on a number of AI-specific regulations, the main objective of the Interim Measures is to regulate the providers of Generative AI services by addressing core requirements, as well as social morality, ethics and socialist values.

Organisations outside of the region should be aware of these requirements before entering into the market and consult local legal counsel. The Interim Measures’ compliance requirements can be enforced in accordance with other relevant laws and regulations in China, which can unfold in administrative sanctions, warnings, remedial actions, suspension order, fine, and criminal sanctions. Additionally, most of those provisions are still open to interpretation and a discretionary margin in their application.

It is still to be seen if this new framework will help encourage the development of AI technologies in the country in the long term.

The path forward

Throughout our journey as designers, we have evolved significantly, adapting to emerging technologies that have shaped our craft. From the early days of web design to the advent of flash technology, mobile experiences, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the evolving metaverse concept, we have constantly pushed the boundaries. Today, AI is the latest frontier, empowering designers with groundbreaking tools and capabilities that revolutionise how we approach our work.

Tech giants, startups, and businesses in Asia have started to embrace AI in order to redefine CX. The application of AI, in conjunction with technologies like AR and VR, promises to create immersive experiences that resonate with the region's tech-savvy consumers.

AI's influence on CX extends beyond mere automation. It is a catalyst for transformative interactions, anticipating and addressing customer needs with unprecedented precision.

In Asia’s dynamic landscape, where technological innovation is thriving (particularly in China as a testing ground for luxury's tech advancements), AI finds fertile ground for evolution.

The significance of policies governing AI cannot be overstated, and China's recent initiatives mark just the beginning. As AI expands its influence, striking a delicate balance between nurturing innovation and ensuring ethical AI practices becomes increasingly crucial, presenting both an opportunity and a challenge. Ethical and legal considerations are paramount for responsible AI use. Transparent data practices and honest algorithms are crucial in maintaining customer trust and regulatory compliance.

By leveraging AI's capabilities, businesses can create tailored, efficient, culturally relevant interactions that drive customer loyalty and business growth.

Atlas Lim is the CX practice lead, at Valtech APAC.

Campaign Asia

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