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AI in Australian Business: The race to invest

“Application of cognitive and AI systems is the foundation of the technology-led transformation we are seeing drive change across almost every industry segment”

Australian businesses have some catching up to do in the next decade, if they’re to reap the benefits of AI-driven efficiencies. High tech research house International Data Corporation (IDC) is anticipating a concerted push to do so. 

The October 2017 update of its Worldwide Semi-annual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide, Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) anticipates spending on cognitive and AI systems will reach $4.6 billion by 2021, up from $458 million in 2017.

Showpo – driving sales by customising the customer experience

Marketing software with AI capabilities is helping Australian online fashion start-up Showpo improve the way it interacts with customers and grow its turnover. The latter is no easy feat in an era when boundless fashion options and deep cut discounts are just a click away.

Founded by Gen Y entrepreneur Jane Lu in her parents’ garage in 2010, Showpo ships its youth fashion range to 80 countries. The brand has amassed a social media following of more than 2.8 million and was reported to have reached a turnover of $30 million in 2017.

Implemented in early 2017, the Emarsys software suite uses AI to segment the Showpo customer base and deliver highly personalised marketing campaigns, based on customers’ previous purchasing patterns.

The business benefits include increased revenue, less time spent on manual segmentation of the market and campaign production, and an increase in overall customer satisfaction and engagement, according to Showpo.

“It’s important to us as a business to communicate effectively with our customers, especially as we enter new markets and territories across the globe, including the US, UK and Germany,” says Showpo chief marketing officer, Mark Baartse.

“It’s vital that the team is empowered to deliver personalised, relevant and engaging content to our customers at the right time.” More latterly, Showpo has rolled out a software module which uses data from its CRM system to provide visitors to its website with personalised content and offers. Improved customer conversion, retention and win-back rates are the desired outcomes, Baartse says.

AI in a professional services setting – Wise Accounting

Implementing practice management software which incorporates AI accounting and advice modules has enabled Wise Accounting to shift its focus from retrospective compliance to proactive advisory work. Based in Western Australia, the practice provides tax and accounting services to a client base of small and medium businesses across Australia.

“We’re no longer waiting for clients to ring us looking for information or advice when regulatory changes are announced,” Wise Accounting principal Tyler Wise says.

“The AI capability of the CCH iQ system we have implemented allows us to identify options, navigate contingencies and recommend customised solutions for clients in our data base, within 48 hours of receiving a tax-related event announcement.”

The software has transformed the way the firm operates. It has enabled it to differentiate itself from its competitors by way of the additional insights and advice it can provide to customers. “Value-added business consulting is now a by-product of the automated systems in place,” Wise says.

“A client’s tax return allows us to analyse their business, and with an understanding of impending changes, this analysis can influence key business decisions.”

The race to invest

The banking and healthcare industries have led the AI investment push to date, spending $65.5 million and $47.3 million respectively, on cognitive and AI systems in 2017.

AI spending growth over the next five years is expected to be strongest in the insurance, central government and education sectors, with IDC predicting a compound annual growth rate of more than 83 per cent over the period. Better customer connections and increased efficiency and business insight are driving AI investment, according to IDC Asia-Pacific customer insights research manager Ashutosh Bisht.

IDC has identified 23 areas to which AI investment is likely be directed. These include digital assistants, diagnostic and treatment systems, intelligent processing automation, expert shopping advisors and product recommendations, public safety and emergency response systems and automated preventative maintenance response.

“Application of cognitive and AI systems is the foundation of the technology-led transformation we are seeing drive change across almost every industry segment,” Ashutosh Bisht says.

Software and services are expected to account for the majority of the investment. While IDC expects software spending to slow after 2019, services spending is expected to experience compound growth of 86 per cent between now and 2021. 

Future business relies on AI to perform big data analytics and support business decision making processes. Further education helps managers to understand designs, principles, advantages and limitations of AI driven information technologies and their delivery platforms such as the Internet of Things, Cloud and Mobile Computing. 

Professional Practice credentials at Deakin University are designed for accomplished IT professionals looking to gain accreditation for their industry experience in the form of a Master of Information Technology Leadership. Delivered 100% online, earn a world class qualification in 12 months. 

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