SAS: AI in Asia On the Rise But Not High Enough


SAS: Asia Yet to Fully Grasp Potential of AI

Malaysia lags behind its neighbours Thailand and Singapore in Artificial Intelligence adoption. SAS Malaysia Executive Director Sheikh Manzoor Ghani tells Ibrahim Sani what enterprises need to do to fully reap the full benefits of embracing technology.

Are enterprises doing enough in utilising the full scope and potential of Artificial Intelligence?

“I want to start this conversation by zooming in and contextualising what I mean by AI,” says Sheikh Manzoor Ghani, Executive Director of business analytics software and services company SAS Malaysia.

“I don’t want to have this conversation of robots with thinking minds and such when discussing issues surrounding AI."

"The AI that I do want to speak on is more on the automated, machine learning enabled, processes to make decision making much more optimised and done faster than the manual way of doing things,” says Manzoor, trying to rein in the discussion as he says different individuals have different conceptions on the term AI.

SAS is a North Carolina-based company that has a turnover of over USD3.2 billion in 2017, making it one of the world’s most valued software company listed on the Fortune 500.

In Malaysia, SAS is widely used in large organisations such as CIMB, Astro Malaysia, and more.

But a company as large as SAS now faces a challenge on its own – are companies using SAS’ products and services as intended, or are these companies limiting themselves to the technology provided for by this software company?

A recent survey conducted by the IDC Asia Pacific Enterprise Cognitive survey highlights that Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption in the region is on the rise, but not high enough.

In Southeast Asia, AI adoption rate stands at 14 percent in 2017 compared to eight percent in 2016. This indicates a clear move by companies to allow some form of AI or cognitive intelligence into their operations.

“I think the conversation on whether or not companies use our own technology or our competitor’s technology in AI applications is not the main point here,” explains Manzoor.

“The name of the game is to make sure that companies, governments, and large institutions, are aware that their own productivity and efficiency is enhanced if they really do embrace the full operational capabilities that AI has to offer,” he says.
Greater understanding about the interoperability between AI technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) is also crucial, says Manzoor. If companies and governments can fully grasp their potential, then greater applications can be introduced.

“The use of AI is really broad. You may laugh when I say this, but in many parts around the globe, IoT applications is placed in even crops and animals to ensure that farmers and planters are aware of their stocks’ breeding times, health, yield value, and other key things that is now made available if they fully understood how to use AI and IoT efficiently,” he says.

Going back to the IDC report, Indonesian companies and its government show the highest adoption rate of AI at 24.6 percent in 2017. Thailand's adoption rate stands at 17.1 percent, Singapore at 9.9 percent, and Malaysia at 8.1 percent.

This shows that the Asian tigers are wisening up to the practical use of AI but countries like Malaysia must do more in having greater adoption rates across the board.