Article: The journey of AI adoption in ASEAN countries


The journey of AI adoption in ASEAN countries

More organizations in Southeast Asia are set to leverage AI, and the adoption rates have increased from 8% to 14% in the current year.
The journey of AI adoption in ASEAN countries

Advances in data collection, algorithms, and processing power through cognified systems and technological advancements especially in artificial intelligence (AI) has led to many changes in the way corporate eco-system is shaping up in many countries including the South Asian region. Simultaneously, aggressive investment is helping many companies acquire talent, technology, and data sets that are potentially erecting barriers for slower moving competitors.

ASEAN countries like Singapore owing to its advantage of being the strategic gateway to the Asia-Pacific region with string of benefits attached viz. trade connectivity, pro-business values and strong economic fundamentals are moving faster in the journey of AI adoption. Indonesia is moving up the ladder as it provides a choice environment for creating centers to continually capitalize on, and develop, the right talent and innovative approaches when it comes to AI. In this context, let us look at the adoption journey of technology in three major ASEAN countries namely Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.


As per a recent survey conducted by IT market research and advisory firm IDC titled ‘IDC Asia/Pacific Enterprise Cognitive/AI’, Indonesia leads ASEAN region in AI adoption. In the Indonesian archipelago, 24.6% of organizations are adopting technology whereas Thailand is in the next place in the chart accounting to 17.1% rate of adoption. Singapore stands 3rd in the series with 9.9% adoption rate followed by Malaysia with 8.1% rate.

The ‘digital first’ mindset in Indonesia is being prominently seen as one of the prime reason for increased adoption ratio. Apart from this, big tech based companies are also pushing the spur in AI. Go-Jek, the online payment and ride-hailing giant and Kaskus - Indonesia’s biggest online forum and marketplace are classic examples who are driving these adoption rates. Kakus had recently announced the investment it made in, a fellow Indonesian Tech Company that specializes in Natural Language Processor’s text and speech based processing tools using local language. The company is focused on custom services, fitting its client’s needs of NLP to filter hoax and negative news in its forum in an effort to bring more positive contents to its loyal users – Kaskuser.


Companies are investing and trying to outline a much faster growing AI market in Singapore. Boston based DataRobot has invested around $11m in a regional office and research operation in Singapore. Yitu Technology – a Chinese facial recognition software company has set its sights on a new regional headquarter in Singapore. EY too is investing heavily in Singapore by opening new centres of excellence that will offer business transformation strategy, cyber security, analytics and manufacturing capabilities across the Asia-Pacific region.


Alibaba’s one of the key overseas market is none other than Malaysia. In the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Alibaba is all set to use its City Brain artificial intelligence platform to analyse data from camera feeds and traffic junctions. This Chinese cloud computing bigwig has teamed up with Malaysia’s government to roll out an artificial intelligence (AI) platform aimed at easing Kuala Lumpur’s notorious traffic congestion. Apart from setting up an electronic trading platform and datacentre in the country in 2017, Alibaba also worked with MDEC to set up a digital free trade zone (DFTZ) located near Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Huawei is another major technology company that has been making inroads in Malaysia. In September 2017, Mimos - Malaysia’s national research and development centre for information and communications technology signed a deal with Huawei to develop public safety and smart city projects, including the use of advanced video analytics and facial recognition technology.

Summing up, it is seen that AI is undoubtedly giving birth to incredible innovations catalyzing growth in the south Asian region. However, despite the increase in adoption, ASEAN companies are still lagging behind their North Asian counterparts in making AI a strategic agenda. Lack of relevant skills and knowledge are seen as the top two barriers to entry with concerns over AI technology. To reap the benefits of AI, South East Asian companies must embed AI solutions into their business strategy.

A blend of right skills, processes and technology with the right business outcomes in mind, need to be the way forward. And solidification of such mindset in their strategy to turn AI into a differentiator for the business will surely help in more adoption. In fact, more than 80% of companies in China and South Korea believe that AI capabilities would be critical for organizational success as against 40% in Singapore and Malaysia. Hence, a lot of effort needs to be put under the national blueprint to bolster AI adoption across industries by developing the right mindset along with creating more AI talent as future goals.

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Topics: Technology, #Innovation

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