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The Future of AI in Asia Pacific's Workplace: More than 80% of people now trust robots more than their managers



Our relationship and attitudes towards AI at work are steadily shifting – whereas traditionally when AI has tried to emulate and surpass human intelligence, now humans and AI are increasingly working in tandem to deliver the best experiences possible to the end-user.


In fact, according to a study that Oracle and Future Workplace have just co-launched last month, 64% of people trust robots more than their managers, ranging as high as 90% in India, 88% in China and 84% in Singapore. Anticipating the massive potential of AI-generated business value, innovation and improved employee efficiency and wellbeing, all APAC markets surveyed are approaching the future of AI in the workplace with excitement and readiness; ranked higher than feelings of concern, fear, uncertainty and indifference.


Although the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2019 ranked Asia Pacific as the most competitive region in the world, the United States remains a powerhouse for business dynamism, innovation and finding skilled employees. In order to get ahead in today’s volatile globalised economy, Asia Pacific nations should be better prepared to cope with the disruptions of technology integration by strengthening trust in the technology and upskilling their talent base, so that AI could boost productivity and allow people to take on more higher-level tasks that require empathy and judgment.



Vice President JAPAC, Strategy & Business Development, Applications  



Please give us a little information on your background and current role and responsibilities at Oracle?

I have spent so far 13 years at Oracle after joining the company from leading Consumer Products and Technology services companies. I lead the Go to Market Strategy and Business Development for Software as a Service Business in Japan and the Asia Pacific. My job consists of translating our corporate strategic directions and developments in programmes that help our customers transform and overcome business hurdles. I am thrilled by the continuous renovation and energy that we see at Oracle and the transformation that our customers and ourselves are going through.


I was born and bred in Italy, but I have spent there only half of my life, having lived the rest in Germany, Spain and now Singapore. I am a Mechanical Engineer by background, had the opportunity to complete several Business Executive education programmes at Oracle but did classical studies including Latin, ancient Greek and Philosophy before.


I believe in diversity as a source of innovation and motivation: true breakthrough innovation comes from unexpected situations and the best is yet to come.



How are  mindsets changing in APAC towards AI technology?

People now trust robots more than their managers and organisations are implementing AI in various business functions. The results of recent surveys are quite surprising: 64% of people would trust a robot more than their manager and 50% have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice. This ranges as high as 90% in India, 88% in China and 84% in Singapore, and all APAC markets surveyed are approaching the future of AI in the workplace with readiness and excitement; ranked higher than feelings of concern, fear, uncertainty and indifference.


However, I do not believe people prefer to be managed by machine, but instead that people welcome AI and edge technologies to increase the ability of their managers to be better leaders. APAC’s optimism surrounding AI in the workplace comes as the region is increasingly anticipating the massive potential of AI-generated business value, innovation and improved employee efficiency and wellbeing.



Why should organizations implement human-centered AI to improve productivity and optimise back-end processes?

Organisations should implement human-centered AI as it ensures a more productive and healthier workplace. With an increase in productivity as a result of greater automation, it means more revenue will be generated, thus providing additional money to be spent on supporting jobs in the services sector.


In order to stop unconscious bias and ensure an equitable hiring process, HR departments are also starting to deploy AI in their recruitment processes, which can screen candidates by assessing copious data points objectively while even being programmed to ignore candidates’ demographic information. In fact, the Oracle and Future Workplace study found that 82% of people think robots can provide unbiased information and feedback better than their managers.


Furthermore, automation of more manual tasks through AI allows HR managers to focus their time on more strategic assignments such as attracting, developing and retaining the best talent possible. By employing human capital management technologies powered by AI, HR managers can harness valuable data-driven insights on employees and their training and career development needs, enabling them to execute faster, smarter business decisions and keep up with fast-paced market demands and changes.



How can public and private sectors collaborate to strengthen workforce culture and capabilities by readily integrating AI?

Public and private sectors should invest in worker retraining programmes and ongoing education for those already in the workforce. Additionally, governments can provide incentives and financial resources for private and nonprofit organisations to develop and deliver high-quality workforce upskilling programmes in preparation of AI integration at their workplace.

Moreover, the public and private sectors, as well as academia and civil society, have important roles to play in developing and implementing policies that will prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future and enable the current workforce to transition successfully to the new job environment.

To ensure that AI can deliver its greatest positive potential, industries, governments, academics and public-interest leaders must all work together to advance policies and practices that enable us, as a society, to take full advantage of emerging technologies.



What are the latest AI technologies out there that are the most interesting and promising for you personally?


I am excited by the possibility of entering a human centric renaissance, where we move towards a new era where important issues, whether a better work balance, the thriving of purposeful business and the decoupling of economic growth from the unsustainable practice, will become a reality.

What excites me the most in my current job, is the possibility for AI technologies to make our enterprise systems become “business partners” to our users. It will be the end of the era where we input data for the sake of some advanced analytics exercise, and we will start to see our business technologies simplifying our job and especially advising on patterns otherwise very difficult to spot.

As you might have seen in a recent demo at Oracle Open World 2019 by our EVP of Product Development Steve Miranda, we able today to connect analysis of sales performances to the need of hiring a certain mix of experience in our sales teams to support the expected growth. Data will become the most valuable immaterial asset, and harnessing it to power unexpected insights is the most competitive business weapon.


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Simon Childs currently acts as an Advisor to the Board for Recruit's International Recruitment Business and carries out additional strategic partnership, learning and development, and talent initiatives. He is an avid HR Tech investor/advisor to several start-ups and co-founded HR Digital Today