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SA's high growth companies investing more in AI - Microsoft

SA's high growth companies investing more in AI - Microsoft

South African firms with double-digit growth are more than twice as likely to actively be using Artificial Intelligence (AI) compared to lower-growth businesses.

This is according to research by Microsoft, Altimeter Group and the University of St Gallen in Switzerland into how business leaders view the impact of AI on leadership.

Researchers have categorised high-growth companies as those growing in double digits and low-growth companies as those experiencing single-digit growth.

The Pulse AI Research Report, which surveyed 1150 leaders across EMEA and the US, states that globally 37.8% of high-growth companies and 17.1% of lower-growth companies are actively implementing AI.

In South Africa, the percentage of high-growth companies who are likely to be using AI is 31.8% versus 18.5% for low growth companies.

In South Africa, 41.7% of companies are companies expect to use more AI in the coming year to improve decision making (45.5% globally) – as compared to 20% (30.8% globally) of low-growth companies.

More local high-growth companies are also looking at using AI to optimise processes, 37.5% (40% globally), and to develop new products and services, 45% (33% globally) in the next year than lower growth companies at 31.3% (33.3% globally) and 7.1% (24.7% globally) respectively.

Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst focused on business and ethical implications of AI said "What's striking about the research is the difference between double-digit growth companies and those with lower growth. Double-digit growth companies are further along in their AI deployments, but also see greater urgency in using more AI. They are looking at a one to three-year timeframe – often times really focused on the coming year. Lower growth companies are looking at more of a five-year timeframe. What this says to me is that the more you know, the higher your sense of urgency is."

According to the research successful leaders in business are looking to use AI to augment decision making, drive efficiencies and help drive growth, including job creation.

"High-growth leaders are not only using more AI now, they also feel a greater urgency to deploy more AI in the immediate future - not only to drive efficiencies but growth too and 87.3% of high-growth companies intend to invest in decision-making AI in one to three years versus 66.7% of low-growth companies who plan to invest in decision-making AI in three to five years," stated Microsoft.

In South Africa, these numbers are 86.6% for high-growth companies and 72.8% for low-growth companies.

Realising the true benefit of AI is not simply about being fast adopters of innovative technology. Companies must build their own digital capabilities and innovations. Simply: every company needs to think of itself as a digital company, says Lillian Barnard Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa.

*Microsoft partnered with Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst focused on business and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence with the Altimeter Group and Heike Bruch, Professor at and Director of the Institute for Leadership and Human Resources Management at the University of St. Gallen to produce the Pulse AI Research Report, which surveyed 1150 leaders across EMEA and the US.

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