Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Generative AI’s potential in retail

Australia’s retail sector could unlock billions of dollars in value by 2030 if it accelerates the “responsible adoption” of generative artificial intelligence (GAI), finds a new report.

The report, Australia’s Generative AI Opportunity, is a collaboration between Microsoft and the Tech Council of Australia. It shows that GAI could contribute between $45 billion and $115 billion a year to Australia’s economy by 2030 through two major channels: improving existing industries and enabling the creation of new products and services.

Retail has been identified as one of the four key sectors of the Australian economy poised to benefit from GAI. The report demonstrates that the technology could contribute between $3 billion and $9 billion annually to the sector in Australia by 2030.

The potential benefits

The key drivers of value for GAI in the retail sector are said to be better customer support and personalised experiences, as well as streamlined backend operations.

According to the report, GAI can automate 30% and augment 32% of the tasks performed by a shop sales assistant, for example.

In addition, GAI is said to be able to improve the productivity of customer support workers by 14%, as well as drive greater customer engagement and personalisation of products.

Tech Council of Australia CEO Kate Pounder says having invested heavily in omnichannel capabilities during the Covid pandemic, Australia’s retail industry is now primed to integrate GAI into existing digital platforms.

“This stands to benefit companies striving to innovate and stand out, and customers wanting better service and prices,” she says.

Microsoft Australia and New Zealand Chief Technology Officer Lee Hickin says Microsoft is proud to partner with the Tech Council on this timely report.

“GAI has emerged as a transformative technology in 2023, with its adoption growing rapidly across various sectors in Australia,” he says. “These include several pilot programs being explored by our retail customers, as they look to automate processes, create personalised offerings and streamline operations.

“Microsoft is committed to fostering closer collaboration between industry and government to ensure the nation can realise the potential economic benefits of GAI, and do so responsibly. Building trust in this technology is critical to harnessing its innovative capabilities and enabling Australia to become a global leader in this space.”

What’s next

The report notes that industry and government are at a “critical juncture” in GAI adoption, with deeper collaboration needed for Australia to capture the economic benefits of this technology and to become a global leader in GAI.

The report – which is based on comprehensive economic analysis as well as consultations with industry, government and academia – also identifies the barriers that industry and government face in capitalising on GAI in four key areas: technology capability, enterprise readiness, awareness and skills, and responsible AI.

Finally, the report outlines the strategic actions that both adopters and policymakers need to take for Australia to overcome these challenges and become a global leader in GAI. These include defining the opportunity and vision for GAI, assessing readiness, incentivising adoption and innovation, upskilling the workforce, and developing responsible AI governance frameworks.

Read the report here.

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