Questions businesses should ask when using AI

AI For Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Companies across sectors need to be clear about using artificial intelligence (AI) rather than jumping on the bandwagon for fear of being left behind, says Kindrill's managing director for Malaysia and Indonesia Efendi Azmi Hashim.

Efendi, the information technology infrastructure services provider, said some executives he spoke to weren't sure why their companies were starting to use AI or how to use it responsibly.

“Clarity means knowing why you're using it and what goal or outcome you want to achieve.

“The problem with AI is that most people try to use it for everything,” he told StarBiz on the sidelines of the 3rd Malaysian Banking Conference 2024: Banking in the GenAI Era to Reinvent Banking, Innovate for the New Economy and Accelerate Sustainability, held here yesterday.

According to Efendi, once a budget is allocated for AI, it would be wise to aim for what is achievable: the complete optimisation of a process, function or industry.

“If you do it for the sake of the process, how long do you want to see things change?

“If you're doing it for functionality, how can AI make the workforce more productive? These are questions to ask,” he said.

He added that some companies are already halfway through their AI journey, pausing along the way to ask themselves why they started in the first place.

“The question I get asked a lot is, what is AI? It's not asked as a test, but to assure students that AI is important and what it can accomplish.”

“When companies and organizations have strong, robust plans for their AI adoption, they are more likely to be responsible in their use of AI and underpinned by strong governance,” Efendi noted.

Edward Ling, chief executive officer of the Asian Association of Chartered Bankers, said the use of AI in the banking industry is not new.

It's no longer a matter of deploying AI, but of unlocking its full potential and realizing how it can help, he said.

There are two areas in which the use of AI is estimated to increase productivity by 30%.

“First, there's speed. Speed ​​determines how efficient an organization can be. But we also need to focus more on value creation. For example, when it comes to sales and marketing, how can AI help personalize customer service or create better products?”

Meanwhile, Malayan Banking Bhd Maybank's group technology, data, digital and talent director Dr Shameem Farooq said the bank began its AI efforts in 2018.

Her role was to upskill and reskill employees to be AI-ready.

“I created a program to learn about AI and how it can create value for customers and shareholders at a strategic level.

“Our management has also taken the time to learn programming because they believe the future of banking is enabled by technology,” she said, adding that the competition is no longer just between banks but also between technology companies looking to get into banking.

“Maybank looked at our talent and said it has to be talent with high technical capabilities. If our senior executives and top management are going to lead a technical workforce, then we need to be equipped to know how to do that,” Shameem pointed out.

When asked where Malaysia's banking industry and AI adoption stood compared to other countries in the region, Lim said the industry was not too far behind compared to other countries.

“We went abroad and exchanged experiences and found that we are not that far behind or at par. So it's up to each bank to see how quickly they bounce back,” he said.

Lin explained that larger banks with deeper pockets are more likely to invest, which can result in stronger progress in the industry.

He noted that smaller banks could face challenges in terms of leadership.

Osman Abdullah, CEO of Islamic finance and innovation services at Silver Lake Group, said he noticed a lack of technology that could help share the Shariah aspects of Islamic banking.

He said many of the sharia committees he spoke to welcomed tools that would help them do their jobs more efficiently and productively.

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