In a 2016 survey commissioned by software giant Microsoft, the company discovered that business leaders in Singapore are showing urgency in embracing the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, defined as the use of technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), advanced data analytics, and mixed reality, all powered by cloud computing.

SwissCognitiveThree quarters of business leaders believe that they need to transform to a digital business to enable future growth. In just a few short years, both artificial intelligence and machine learning have become more efficient and accessible by more people. Jordi Ribas, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in charge of AI products, said when people think of AI, they often think of high-tech, visible products like robots or AI-powered vehicles.

What many people don’t realise, Mr Ribas said, is that AI also is having a tangible impact on most people’s lives through products like search or Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite of apps. In December 2017, Microsoft announced the availability of the Microsoft Azure Bot Service, and Microsoft Cognitive Services Language Understanding (LUIS) to help businesses augment their customer offerings by utilising software with AI baked in.

Both available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, Azure Bot Service enables developers to create conversational interfaces on multiple channels, while LUIS helps developers create customised natural interactions on any platform for any type of application, which includes chatbots. According to Microsoft, more than 760,000 developers from 60 countries are currently using LUIS, and over 240,000 developers have signed up to use the Azure Bot Service. In the business world, AI is poised to have a tremendous impact. It is already in use with thousands of companies around the world. However, its true usefulness has yet to be tapped.

As the years pass, the effects of AI will be felt on an order of magnitude in areas such as manufacturing, retail, transport. Nearly every single industry has the potential to be transformed by artificial intelligence. In the survey above (called the Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study), managing director of Microsoft Singapore Kevin Wo said it has shown that business leaders have started to act on the need for digital transformation to address the challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the region. […]