India Becomes The Leading Adopter Of AI Amid The Pandemic – Where Are The Further Opportunities For Growth?

India Becomes The Leading Adopter Of AI Amid The Pandemic - Where Are The Further Opportunities For Growth?

The pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to India as it witnessed the highest increase in AI adoption compared to the major economies like the UK, US, and Japan.

The report, published by PwC last week, found that 94% of organisations now believe that AI will help in creating more opportunities than be a threat to their industry, as the country has observed a 45% increase in AI adoption rates, amid the pandemic

The report was based on comprehensive interviews with CXOs and decision-makers of companies across the Indian market, as well as a larger global survey.

Several traits highlight India’s AI adoption trends that present many opportunities for growth across sectors.

India still lags behind its counterparts when it comes to scaling up ‘AI across the organisation’. However, India has a higher percentage when it comes to ‘AI implementation in some business functions’ as compared to other countries. 

Also, more percentage of Indian enterprises are ‘considering the use of AI’ compared to the global average.

This was mainly attributed to the rise in the number of use-cases after the pandemic, according to the report. AI-enabled tools helped manufacturing organisations to maintain hygiene at workplaces and work from home environments to function without the loss of productivity.

At the same time, the data before the pandemic may fail to provide insights for the future as the pandemic continues to change the way the world functions, in so many ways. Hence to reduce costs, combat disruptions, and be future-ready AI adoption increased in India.

Sectoral & Use-case Adoptions And Untapped Opportunities

Sectors that were impacted the most by COVID showed more adoption since it became a necessity than an added advantage. Travel and hospitality, along with technology, media and telecommunication (TMT) sectors, had the highest adoption. 

The healthcare and pharma, along with TMT, were affected positively and adopted more solutions to seize the AI opportunities COVID-19 presented. 

On the other hand, financial services as well as travel and hospitality were adversely affected by the pandemic and used AI to address the uncertainties that followed. 

The retail and consumer industry, along with the industrial production industry both saw a lower adoption as compared to the other industries. The analysis also revealed that the ‘perception of benefit’ through AI is very high in industrial production and presents a lot of untapped potentials. 

Hence, the next immediate opportunities could be in industrial production as the sector realises the benefits of AI and is yet to adopt it on a larger scale. This could be followed by the retail and consumer industry as it realises potential benefits.

In terms of use-cases, the PwC saw a massive adoption in front-office applications like customer service, chatbots, and UX personalisation, since customers could not be met in person. Front-end and back-end office workplace processes were also automated to a large extent using AI.

The report analysed the current use cases as well as the ones that will be adopted in the next two years. Early adopters of applications with low present use and low near-future use can gain a significant advantage over other firms. 

Thus, adoption of AI by companies for applications like customer profiling, quality checking, due diligence, compliance monitoring, document classification, among others presents a great opportunity for growth while also gaining a significant advantage.

Sector-wise, only 10% of industrial production companies are exploring the use of intelligent sanctions and compliance monitoring, and only 11% in retail and consumer markets are looking to explore AI in customer profiling.

Also, there are only 12% of TMT companies exploring smart ticket management, and only 20% in the travel and hospitality industry are exploring targeted marketing.

Conclusion: The Way Forward

As organisations mature in adopting AI in India, the problems in the field have shifted from purely technical and data-related constraints. They are more about finding the right use-cases and implementing them to make projects profitable.

While the article presents untapped potential across sectors and use-cases, the report recommends early identification of realistic, achievable, and quick-win applications to develop AI.

At the same time, the report highlights the importance of adopting AI-automation in a developing country like India, with a focus on augmenting workforce capabilities. AI application to reduce cost purely for economic gains at the social cost of workforce displacement might be short-lived and unsustainable.

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