How do Aussie Consumers Really Feel About AI?

April Davis By April Davis | 14 Feb 2019

Artificial intelligence has exploded in the e-commerce industry of late, but while businesses are jumping on the AI bandwagon, how do consumers feel about the industry’s digital transformation?

A new body of research from Genpact’s second global AI study has revealed that Australian businesses are keen to adopt AI tech, with 99 percent of the executives surveyed saying they will adopt AI-related technology within the next three years. However, consumers are reportedly less excited by the prospect of AI tech contributing to their shopping experience.

Globally, 53 percent of consumers believe emerging technology has made their lives better, particularly in the AI-arena. Australians, however, are lagging behind their global counterparts, with only 43 percent claiming it’s improving their everyday life. In the UK, 48 percent of shoppers feel positive about AI and in the US, 59 percent do.

Not surprisingly, concerns around personal data are one of the biggest barriers retailers need to overcome if they want their AI efforts to yield positive results. Genpact found that nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of Aussie consumers don’t want companies to gather their personal information, even if the goal is to optimise their online and in-store experiences. A further 54 percent of consumers believe the government should be stepping in to protect their data.

Shoppers also noted that they’re concerned about AI programs discriminating against them. Eighty-four percent of Australians reportedly said they think it’s important for businesses to take active measures to prevent AI bias. However, 98 percent of the Australian executives surveyed said their companies are taking steps to eliminate AI bias. Presently, only 31 percent of Australian companies have comprehensive governance and internal control frameworks in place to manage bias.

“E-commerce companies already see AI’s benefits, and we expect to see this grow in Australia as more businesses learn from early adopters, and as more customers and employees better understand the benefits of AI on their lives,” Richard Morgan, the country manager of Genpact Australia said.

“Yet, people still worry about such issues as AI bias and privacy. These doubts send clear signals about what companies must address to achieve the greatest business impact from AI,” he continued.

Some other interesting insights coming out of the report include the differences in opinion between retail executives and consumers when it comes to Chat Bots. The majority (88 percent) of Australian executives believe their customers would rather be served by a bot than a call agent by 2021. Thirty-eight percent of these respondents say they “strongly” believe this to be the case. In contrast, only seven percent of consumers said they would rather interact with a bot over a human within the next three years.

However, 56 percent of consumers indicated they would be more comfortable with AI if they had a better understanding of how it works.

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