While many AI companies have been around for years, this will be the year that many of them make a significant play into enterprises in Asia Pacific. This comes at a time when many organisations are attempting to reduce tech debt and simplify their tech architecture.
For these AI startups to succeed, they will need to create watertight business cases, and do a lot of the hard work in pre-integrating their solutions with the larger platforms to reduce the time to value and simplify the systems integration work.
To respond to these emerging threats, existing tech providers will need to not only accelerate their own use of AI in their platforms, but also ramp up the education and promotion of these capabilities.
#2 Lead With Data, Not AI Capabilities
Organisations recognise the need for AI to enhance their workforce, improve customer experience, and automate processes. However, the initial challenge lies in improving data quality, as trust in early AI models hinges on high-quality training data for long-term success.
Tech vendors that can help with data source discovery, metadata analysis, and seamless data pipeline creation will emerge as trusted AI partners. Transformation tools that automate deduplication and quality assurance tasks empower data scientists to focus on high-value work. Automation models like Segment Anything enhance unstructured data labeling, particularly for images. Finally synthetic data will gain importance as quality sources become scarce.
Tech vendors will be tempted to capitalise on the Generative AI hype but for sake of positive early experiences, they should begin with data quality.
#3 Prepare Thoroughly for AI-driven Business Demand
Besides pureplay AI opportunities, AI will drive a renewed and increased interest in data and data management. Tech and service providers can capitalise on this by understanding the larger picture around their clients’ data maturity and governance. Initial conversations around AI can be door openers to bigger, transformational engagements.
Tech vendors should avoid the pitfall of downplaying AI risks. Instead, they should make all efforts to own and drive the conversation with their clients. They need to be forthcoming about their in-house responsible AI guidelines and understand what is happening in AI legislation world-wide (hint: a lot!)
Tech providers must establish strong client partnerships for AI initiatives to succeed. They must address risk and benefit equally to reap the benefits of larger AI-driven transformation engagements.
#4 Converge Network & Security Capabilities
Networking and security vendors will need to develop converged offerings as these two technologies increasingly overlap in the hybrid working era. Organisations are now entering a new phase of maturity as they evolve their remote working policies and invest in tools to regain control. They will require simplified management, increased visibility, and to provide a consistent user experience, wherever employees are located.
There has already been a widespread adoption of SD-WAN and now organisations are starting to explore next generation SSE technologies. Procuring these capabilities from a single provider will help to remove complexity from networks as the number of endpoints continue to grow.
Tech providers should take a land and expand approach, getting a foothold with SASE modules that offer rapid ROI. They should focus on SWG and ZTNA deals with an eye to expanding in CASB and FWaaS, as customers gain experience.
#5 Double Down on Your Partner Ecosystem
The IT services market, particularly in Asia Pacific, is poised for significant growth. Factors, including the imperative to cut IT operational costs, the growing complexity of cloud migrations and transformations, change management for Generative AI capabilities, and rising security and data governance needs, will drive increased spending on IT services.
Tech services providers – consultants, SIs, managed services providers, and VARs – will help drive organisations’ tech spend and strategy. This is a good time to review partners, evaluating whether they can take the business forward, or whether there is a need to expand or change the partner mix.
Partner reviews should start with an evaluation of processes and incentives to ensure they foster desired behaviour from customers and partners. Tech vendors should develop a 21st century partner program to improve chances of success.
#1 Accelerate and Adapt: Streamline IT with a DevOps Culture
Over the next 12-18 months, advancements in AI, machine learning, automation, and cloud-native technologies will be vital in leveraging scalability and efficiency. Modernisation is imperative to boost responsiveness, efficiency, and competitiveness in today’s dynamic business landscape.
The continued pace of disruption demands that organisations modernise their applications portfolios with agility and purpose. Legacy systems constrained by technical debt drag down velocity, impairing the ability to deliver new innovative offerings and experiences customers have grown to expect.
Prioritising modernisation initiatives that align with key value drivers is critical. Technology leaders should empower development teams to move beyond outdated constraints and swiftly deploy enhanced applications, microservices, and platforms.
#2 Empowering Tomorrow: Spring Clean Your Tech Legacy for New Leaders
Modernising legacy systems is a strategic and inter-generational shift that goes beyond simple technical upgrades. It requires transformation through the process of decomposing and replatforming systems – developed by previous generations – into contemporary services and signifies a fundamental realignment of your business with the evolving digital landscape of the 21st century.
The essence of this modernisation effort is multifaceted. It not only facilitates the integration of advanced technologies but also significantly enhances business agility and drives innovation. It is an approach that prepares your organisation for impending skill gaps, particularly as the older workforce begins to retire over the next decade. Additionally, it provides a valuable opportunity to thoroughly document, reevaluate, and improve business processes. This ensures that operations are not only efficient but also aligned with current market demands, contemporary regulatory standards, and the changing expectations of customers.
#3 Employee Retention: Consider the Strategic Role of Skills Acquisition
The agile, resilient organisation needs to be able to respond at pace to any threat or opportunity it faces. Some of this ability to respond will be related to technology platforms and architectures, but it will be the skills of employees that will dictate the pace of reform. While employee attrition rates will continue to decline in 2024 – but it will be driven by skills acquisition, not location of work.
Organisations who offer ongoing staff training – recognising that their business needs new skills to become a 21st century organisation – are the ones who will see increasing rates of employee retention and happier employees. They will also be the ones who offer better customer experiences, driven by motivated employees who are committed to their personal success, knowing that the organisation values their performance and achievements.
#4 Next-Gen IT Operations: Explore Gen AI for Incident Avoidance and Predictive Analysis
The integration of Generative AI in IT Operations signifies a transformative shift from the automation of basic tasks, to advanced functions like incident avoidance and predictive analysis. Initially automating routine tasks, Generative AI has evolved to proactively avoiding incidents by analysing historical data and current metrics. This shift from proactive to reactive management will be crucial for maintaining uninterrupted business operations and enhancing application reliability.
Predictive analysis provides insight into system performance and user interaction patterns, empowering IT teams to optimise applications pre-emptively, enhancing efficiency and user experience. This also helps organisations meet sustainability goals through accurate capacity planning and resource allocation, also ensuring effective scaling of business applications to meet demands.
#5 Expanding Possibilities: Incorporate AI Startups into Your Portfolio
While many of the AI startups have been around for over five years, this will be the year they come into your consciousness and emerge as legitimate solutions providers to your organisation. And it comes at a difficult time for you!
Most tech leaders are looking to reduce technical debt – looking to consolidate their suppliers and simplify their tech architecture. Considering AI startups will mean a shift back to more rather than fewer tech suppliers; a different sourcing strategy; more focus on integration and ongoing management of the solutions; and a more complex tech architecture.
To meet business requirements will mean that business cases will need to be watertight – often the value will need to be delivered before a contract has been signed.
ADVANCE.AIprovides digital transformation, fraud prevention, and process automation solutions for enterprise clients. The company offers services in security and compliance, digital identity verification, and biometric solutions. They partner with over 1,000 enterprise clients across Southeast Asia and India across sectors, such as Banking, Fintech, Retail, and eCommerce.
Megvii is a technology company based in China that specialises in AI, particularly deep learning. The company offers full-stack solutions integrating algorithms, software, hardware, and AI-empowered IoT devices. Products include facial recognition software, image recognition, and deep learning technology for applications such as consumer IoT, city IoT, and supply chain IoT.
I’mCloud is based in South Korea and specialises in AI, big data, and cloud storage solutions. The company has become a significant player in the AI and big data industry in South Korea. They offer high-quality AI-powered chatbots, including for call centres and interactive educational services.
H2O.ai provides an AI platform, the H2O AI Cloud, to help businesses, government entities, non-profits, and academic institutions create, deploy, monitor, and share data models or AI applications for various use cases. The platform offers automated machine learning capabilities powered by H2O-3, H2O Hydrogen Torch, and Driverless AI, and is designed to help organisations work more efficiently on their AI projects.
Frame AI provides an AI-powered customer intelligence platform. The software analyses human interactions and uses AI to understand the driving factors of business outcomes within customer service. It aims to assist executives in making real-time decisions about the customer experience by combining data about customer interactions across various platforms, such as helpdesks, contact centres, and CRM transcripts.
Uizard offers a rapid, AI-powered UI design tool for designing wireframes, mockups, and prototypes in minutes. The company’s mission is to democratise design and empower non-designers to build digital, interactive products. Uizard’s AI features allow users to generate UI designs from text prompts, convert hand-drawn sketches into wireframes, and transform screenshots into editable designs.
Moveworks provides an AI platform that is designed to automate employee support. The platform helps employees to automate tasks, find information, query data, receive notifications, and create content across multiple business applications.
Tome develops a storytelling tool designed to reduce the time required for creating slides. The company’s online platform creates or emphasises points with narration or adds interactive embeds with live data or content from anywhere on the web, 3D renderings, and prototypes.
Jasper is an AI writing tool designed to assist in generating marketing copy, such as blog posts, product descriptions, company bios, ad copy, and social media captions. It offers features such as text and image AI generation, integration with Grammarly and other Chrome extensions, revision history, auto-save, document sharing, multi-user login, and a plagiarism checker.
Eightfold AI provides an AI-powered Talent Intelligence Platform to help organisations recruit, retain, and grow a diverse global workforce. The platform uses AI to match the right people to the right projects, based on their skills, potential, and learning ability, enabling organisations to make informed talent decisions. They also offer solutions for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), skills intelligence, and governance, among others.
Arthur provides a centralised platform for model monitoring. The company’s platform is model and platform agnostic, and monitors machine learning models to ensure they deliver accurate, transparent, and fair results. They also offer services for explainability and bias mitigation.
DNSFilter is a cloud-based, AI-driven content filtering and threat protection service, that can be deployed and configured within minutes, requiring no software installation.
Spot AI specialises in building a modern AI Camera System to create safer workplaces and smarter operations for every organisation. The company’s AI Camera System combines cloud and edge computing to make video footage actionable, allowing customers to instantly surface and resolve problems. They offer intelligent video recorders, IP cameras, cloud dashboards, and advanced AI alerts to proactively deliver insights without the need to manually review video footage.
People.ai is an AI-powered revenue intelligence platform that helps customers win more revenue by providing sales, RevOps, marketing, enablement, and customer success teams with valuable insights. The company’s platform is designed to speed up complex enterprise sales cycles by engaging the right people in the right accounts, ultimately helping teams to sell more and faster with the same headcount.
These examples highlight a few startups worth considering, but the landscape is rich with innovative options for organisations to explore. Similar to other emerging tech sectors, the AI startup market will undergo consolidation over time, and incumbent providers will continue to improve and innovate their own AI capabilities. Till then, these startups will continue to influence enterprise technology adoption and challenge established providers in the market.