Employers and their teams have several opportunities to benefit from recent artificial intelligence (AI) innovations and developments. Current statistics show that using AI in a business can boost productivity by 40%. This impact will likely increase as products develop and technology adoption continues. In 2022, the global market for AI was worth USD 136.6 billion, with predictions showing it will grow at a rate of 38% CAGR by 2030. 

The growing use of AI skills for startup growth is a promising sign for those experienced in or looking to upskill for the new artificial intelligence-led era. There has been a massive increase in demand for employees with AI skills, such as data scientists, machine learning (ML) and software engineers. 

However, as with most innovations, many challenges must also be addressed to ensure the technology’s proper use, increase user buy-in, and protect employees from possible job losses. A recent survey by TalentLMS showed that 44% of employees worried that AI was a threat to jobs. 

How automated document summarisation and other productivity tools will shape future work trends in Southeast Asia

The need to educate and train becomes even more urgent as many companies move towards automation using AI or machine learning software and processes. AI training in Southeast Asia must become more affordable and accessible if startups are to make the most of the opportunities presented. Without adequately trained staff to utilise the technology, resources will be wasted. 

Opportunities for startups using AI

Products such as the now-famous ChatGPT are helping companies streamline everything from customer relations to data analytics. By using AI, startups can free up human resources and divert them to areas where they are more beneficial. This redeployment of talent within a company allows for rapid expansion and the possibility to pivot quickly should they need to change their business plan. 

Taking mundane chores such as responding to customer queries or analysing marketing data obtained from consumers off employees’ plates and allowing AI to deal with them helps companies speed up processes and, in some cases, deliver a higher quality of service to the consumer. 

Rapid generation of business documentation, contracts and emails allows staff to spend more time dealing with more pressing matters and focus on the company’s growth. When a startup targets staff training using AI for growth, it has an excellent opportunity to succeed. 

Challenges facing AI training in Southeast Asia

One of the region’s biggest hurdles regarding AI training is the lack of skilled instructors. This talent vacuum makes it difficult for individuals to receive the high-quality training they need to use AI successfully and to its fullest potential. 

To try to counteract this shortage of skilled AI employees in the financial tech (fintech) sector, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched a scheme to enhance the pool of talent in the AI and Data Analytical (AIDA) arena. The programme aims to increase the number of skilled workers who can develop and innovate AI solutions for the financial industry. 

The cost of AI training can be prohibitive for those who are just starting or may not be able to afford to invest large sums of money into the education and training of staff. Implementing AI-based software in a company requires careful planning to adopt the technology smoothly. Ensuring staff understand the function of AI in the business and know the limitations and scope of use in their job is essential. Employee training to optimise AI within their role is crucial for the success of the implementation. 

Overcoming the challenges and making AI work for startups

Making AI training more affordable and accessible in Southeast Asia will require some effort. One potential solution is to increase the availability of online training courses, which can help reduce training costs and make it more accessible to a broader range of individuals. 

Another potential solution is to offer financial assistance to those who cannot afford the cost of training on their own. Governmental schemes and funding may be crucial in making training accessible for many regional startups. 

Clear policies and governance from governing bodies and the startups themselves are necessary to ensure the safe, correct and most beneficial use of AI technology. Some countries in the region have already published policies on the use of AI or produced roadmaps for its implementation. This readiness to embrace but control the development of the technology is crucial for the safe growth of the sector. 

AI can potentially transform the economy of the ASEAN region. However, to fully realise this potential, steps must be taken to make AI training more affordable and accessible to all. If AI training in Southeast Asia becomes part of the startup landscape, employees can feel confident adopting and using the new technology to its full potential. 

With a strong buy-in by employees, the implementation of AI skills for startup growth by many companies will undoubtedly enhance the chances of success and economic stability in this rapidly digitalising region.