February 14, 2018
Malaysia Reimagined.NOW
By: Coreen Michele Bathman and Esther Goh

Reimagining life with Applied Intelligence.

What is AI anyway?

Digital Transformation, Digital Strategy, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, and other “intelligent” sounding words have often been hyped—mostly leaving us in wonder—not so much of the outcomes it has delivered, but of what it actually means.

At Accenture, we have termed the applied combination of intelligent technology and human ingenuity as Applied Intelligence (AI). This AI constellation of technologies can be used by companies in various ways to comprehend, sense, and act—and the beauty of AI extends into the fact that it has the capability to continue learning, becoming better over time as people provide the human insights based on the data produced by technology.

What does AI look like? When can we truly say that intelligence has been applied? Sometimes when we hear “AI”, a stainless-steel creature moving awkwardly at its limbs come to mind—but AI has been subtly interwoven and impacting our lives in more ways than we realise.

AI is there—recommending small, dark, little roads (that puts us in a horror movie set) for us to take so that we get out of that rainy, Friday night jam quicker. AI is there—in the form of a digital assistant who is sometimes unable to understand our Malaysian accent. AI is there when we get an immediate call from the bank after an out-of-norm transaction was made. And it is there, recommending what videos we watch on Facebook.

But, why AI?

Given the intriguing topic, countless research dollars have been invested—not just in attempts to understand what AI is, but more importantly—the impact it would have on our world today. In one such research that we conducted recently1, we found that AI can make a company more profitable by 38% by 2035—and can drive an economic boost of US$14 trillion across 16 industries in 12 economies, also by 2035.

On a more relatable level, AI gives us the unlimited capacity to reimagine our worlds—Malaysia, our society, our ways of life. AI could be there—replacing precious law enforcement resources during the notorious urban traffic jams, with traffic lights automatically adjusted depending on traffic conditions. It could be there—in our homes, ordering the next packet of Colgate before we run out.

In our corporations, AI could be there in our Marketing departments—telling us which customers would more likely buy our products. AI could be there in our Procurement departments—where artificial intelligence puts in the orders for a critical part replacement the moment a possibility of a machine breakdown is sensed, and humans providing the business-critical input to preemptively plan for maintenance with this data. AI could give us a sense of what kinds of products we need to offer, and what kinds of products will drive our customers right to our competitors. AI could even give us a sense of which employees are potentially going to leave us, giving us a chance to right the wrongs before it is too late.

Here in Malaysia, we are already seeing some innovative companies and startups putting AI to good use. Hong Leong, a local bank recently introduced its first robot meeter-greeter, as part of its “Digital at the Core” vision. FraudLabs Pro, is an example of a Malaysian startup that helps e-commerce merchants identify fraud through scanning of credit card transactions.

In short, AI enhances trust, helps reimagine new products and services, creates new revenue streams, opens new markets, and redefines your workforce. With that—corporations could be well on its way to increasing profitability by an average of 28% by 2035.

If AI is smarter than me, then…

…what’s going to happen to me? Well, AI is not merely machines doing the work but the combination of intelligent technology and human ingenuity. AI and automation may take away some jobs, but it will also create many others.

While AI has the ability to continue learning, so do we. AI’s ability to learn also helps us learn. Remember those days when we had to spend hours looking up the right pages in the right books in the right library just to get additional data for our research? With AI’s ability to scan, understand, and recommend digitised information, we too will become better.

However, we must remember that it is not just about learning. What’s important is also that we are clear of our underlying values to use this new intelligence to bring good to the wider society—and that human value is something almost impossible for AI to replicate.

So, how far ahead are you in the AI space?

Taking a step back into the basics of Artificial Intelligence, our research from 2010-2016 across 200 organisations, highlighted 4 different types of organisations with varying degrees of Artificial Intelligence, or what we term as the Artificial Intelligence Quotient (AIQ)2:

Degrees of AIQ

When we plotted the companies we were following onto the quadrants, we realise that most traditional corporations were merely observers of these new trends taking place.

Who has high AIQ

That is almost reflective of our state of minds—subconsciously some of us almost believe that AI is still a faraway capability, and as long as our neighbour company is not talking about their latest AI venture, we think we still have time to spare.

Some companies in Malaysia have started the AI journey, as we have found in a study recently conducted (Malaysia’s Digital Performance Index)—but most are still in its infancy stages in terms of where analytics is applied for insights. For example, 57% of companies say they use analytics to assess internal company performance, but only 11% say that analytics is leveraged to assess employee performance.

The reality is, however, that AI is here—it is affordable, doable, and available today.

An example from our neighbour down south
Singapore Government Safe City Test Bed

In a trial jointly conducted by Accenture and the Singapore government, we integrated existing and new video sources from CCTVs in public spaces to predict crowd behaviour and anticipate potential security incidents. This was trialed during 2 live public events, and with live video feed and real-time social media information, we were able to help the government coordinate resources better, respond to incidents faster, and facilitate collaboration amongst various government agencies.

Another example from our European friends
European Insurer Turning a Market of Millions into a Market of One

There have been times when we felt like we needed to be treated more “special”, after all, we do pay quite hefty sums for some of the services we buy. A European insurer did just that—treated their customers as if they were one in a million. Using AI, customer behaviour from every win (or loss) of a deal was learned up and improved on so that marketing messages and actions could be razor sharp. The effect? A projected annual bottom-line increase of 15%.

What do we now; what do we do first?

With the endless possibilities and excitement that AI brings, it’s often hard to distill what and where is a good starting point for this journey. A few success factors we observed from leading companies in this space suggests that the following are key:

  1. Help management get excited // Often times, the younger, digital natives are excited about the possibilities of AI, but much work still needs to be done to demonstrate the benefits to their bosses

  2. Understand what you have, and what you need // Data is at the very heart of AI, and understanding what data is currently available to the organisation and what else is needed will be key in unlocking new value

  3. Get new tools // Special computing and processing power is required to enable machines to comprehend, sense, act, and learn from increasingly large amounts of data

  4. Empower the army // Critical to the sustainability of AI is the workforce—enabled with the right capabilities and empowered with a new mindset

  5. Increase the organisation’s agility // With the right operating model, and insights-driven decision making, it is important that the organisation is nimble enough to scale the good, and retire the bad

And might we add—start with the dark side. Dark data are data that organisations already have—information that was collected over some random form you once gave out to your customers, or even data from existing enterprise systems that have never been looked at. You’ll be surprised how much data you already have—now, what’s left (dauntingly), is to structure it, bring it to the light, and get some business-critical sense out of it.

In an era where fast followers will be first losers, it is imperative that organisations move ahead, and reimagine their business, now.

Accenture Applied Intelligence

Accenture Applied Intelligence helps clients apply new data science and intelligent technology across their business, and into every function, so they can transform their business and achieve new outcomes at speed and scale. Recognised as a leader by industry analysts, the company helps clients create new intelligence using AI, machine learning, proprietary algorithms and app-based solutions, all powered by the Accenture Insights Platform. We collaborate with a powerful alliance and delivery network to help clients operationalise within any market and industry with a focus on speed to value. Combining expertise across industries, analytics, technology and design, Accenture is uniquely qualified to drive new business outcomes with precision, at scale. For more information, follow us @ISpeakAnalytics and visit

Coreen M. Bathman
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy

Esther Goh
Manager – Accenture Strategy


1 // How AI Boosts Industry Profits and Innovation (

2 // Research conducted on behalf of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (

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