Is Australia clever enough for artificial intelligence?
IT company Infosys found that Australian companies are the worst prepared for the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies (out of selected major economies). To find this information, Infosys commissioned independent research agency Vance Bourne to survey 1,600 business leaders of companies with a) over 1,000 staff b) at least $500 million annual revenue across Australia, China, the United States, Germany, France, India and the UK
Although Australia spends the second-largest amount of money on automation, the country came last in both the skills needed for AI takeup and plans to integrate AI.
“Though many Australians may not recognise it, AI is all around us,” Andrew Groth, Senior Vice President & Regional Head of Infosys Australian and New Zealand said. “Using complex algorithms, Australian businesses are programming computers to analyse, learn and action vast volumes of data to help combat credit card fraud, speed up new medicine discoveries or even improve your online shopping experience.”
However, the study also found that major Australian businesses invested an average of $7.9 million last year in AI, which places it only behind the US. Infosys expect Australia’s AI spend to increase further, “as organisations in every sector look to scale up and broaden their AI strategies”.
Clearly, Australian financial investment in AI is high. However, businesses are struggling to translate money into results. “The path to AI deployment is a marathon, not a sprint,” Groth said.
We take a look at the Australian businesses who’ve committed to the marathon, and see what they’re doing to accommodate AI technologies.
Australian direct bank ME plans to explore AI technologies this year. The firm wants to supplement its existing automated decision-making capabilities and further streamlines its customer relations. According to ME IT boss Mark Gay, customer experience is something fintech businesses are doing well and thus they pose a threat to the banking sector. ME recognises a need to research and experiment with AI. They want predict the future of AI in banking. The bank will be feeding data into the Microsoft Analytics Platform System, a big data analytics appliance that it bought last year to gain further insights into AI. ME purchase evaluation, credit and behavioural data regularly in order to help automate decision-making. Its work with AI supports Groth’s claim that many large Australian businesses are already experimenting with AI. It’s early days for ME and AI, so no one can say whether they’ll reap the rewards of “cost savings, improved productivity and better decision making benefits.”
Groth continues: “We’re also seeing robotics AI in the form of driverless trucks that improve safety for Australian mine workers, autonomous machines manufacturing high-tech products and even a robotic pharmacist being used at a Perth hospital to order and dispense lifesaving drugs.”
Said hospital is Fiona Stanley Hospital, which introduced an automated pharmaceutical ordering system. The set up consist of $7 million robots which move, scan and store $200,000 worth of drugs daily. According to ABC, Fiona Stanley hosts the biggest robotic drug dispensary in the southern hemisphere. The human workforce previously responsible for these jobs has been reassigned to other tasks in the hospital. Rather than making staff redundant, Fiona Stanley Hospital has proven preparation for AI by planning to replace jobs
Australian audit firms join Fiona Stanley Hospital in the marathon to AI maturity. The Australian branches of big four audit firms KPMG, EY, Deloitte and PwC are financially supporting a new generation of artificial intelligence. KPMG has built a new AI team, named Solution 49x, which has grown to 30 staff members in its first eight months. According to KPMG, the unit will embed “artificial intelligence, machine-based learning, cognitive computing, advanced analytics, probabilistic reasoning and deterministic business rules management into core processes and functions within a client organisation”. Alternatively, EY has established EYC3, the firm’s advanced analytics business. EYC3 will be investigating a new breed of enterprise AI techniques. Deloitte also has a dedicated AI group – Automate. Automate is home to enterprise AI and cognitive domain knowledge. One in five client projects at PwC Australia presently involves some form of enterprise AI.
Large firms focusing on AI demonstrates efforts by Australian business to invest in the sector. Not only that, the efforts show an awareness of AI immaturity. Businesses are studying innovation in AI, experimenting with these technologies, and making sure that there are minimal job losses when AI arrives.
EDGEMATRIX and NTT DOCOMO deliver AI at the edge
Leading Japanese telecommunications firm NTT DOCOMO, together with startup EDGEMATRIX, is harnessing the power of 5G to support artificial intelligence-enabled video, real-time analytics and, ultimately, the next step in the evolution of the modern smart city.
Founded under the roof of Silicon Valley tech firm Cloudian, EDGEMATRIX has grown into a cutting edge startup based in Japan. NTT DOCOMO has been a shareholder in the company since 2019, having spent the past two years jointly developing and commercialising EDGEMATRIX's revolutionary edge-AI platform using high-speed, high-capacity, low-latency 5G technology. NTT DOCOMO, together with EDGEMATRIX, launched a world-first edge AI platform for intelligent video analytics, enabling high resolution, high security, and real-time video using AI.
Courtesy of EDGEMATRIX
The platform simplifies, manages and oversees the implementation and integration of AI at the edge, which captures, analyses and stores video close to where it is captured in industrial and retail settings, "on location at factories, buildings and other outdoor and indoor locations." The solution is also used in social infrastructure such as roads, railroads, and long-term care facilities for safety monitoring and anomaly detection.
Using Edge AI Box, a compact indoor and outdoor device equipped with a GPU for deep learning-based AI and a communication module (WiFi/LTE/5G) together with various interfaces such as camera connection, it becomes possible to process video streaming from surveillance cameras on-site (at the edge) and in real-time. EDGEMATRIX's Edge AI Boxes can be installed across a site and then monitored using the company's platform. The platform maps the locations of multiple Edge AI Box devices installed on site, monitors their operational status and enables the devices to be controlled remotely.
EDGEMATRIX's customers can use the platform to pruchase additional AI applications from a rapidly-expanding ecosystem which allow them to implement the right solution for the right situation. This simplifies the implementation and upgrade of edge AI for processing and storing video data captured with video cameras at customer premises either outdoor or indoor. Using "Edge View" feature, it is also possible to simultaneously display on the browser a large number of AI-processed real-time videos from the field.
Partnerships like this are key to NTT DOCOMO’s efforts to integrate 5G technologies into the modern enterprise.
Zaif Siddiqi, Executive Director and Global Head of NTT DOCOMO’s 5G & IoT Business Department, comments: “When you're approaching digital transformation, there's more to it than just leveraging cutting edge technologies into new customer experiences.” Unless the needs of the customer, and the underlying market forces at play, can be truly understood, “5G doesn’t mean anything,” he explains, adding that in order to find the right contexts for deployment, “Selection of the right partners is extremely important to delivering on the potential value of 5G.”