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APAC CEOs on their views about automation

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:11/24/2017 02:11:31 PM

EIU report says Asian business leaders want to lead both within and outside the company when it comes to automation

A NEW paper from The Economist Corporate Network (ECN) looks into the opinion of business leaders regarding automation and AI. The report sponsored by Hays is based on a survey and focus group interviews of CEOs and other C-suite executives in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Florian Kohlbacher, ECN Director for North Asia, said: “We are talking too much about the potential negative impact of AI and automation on the workplace. What is needed instead is a proactive discussion on how companies can harness technology in order to strategically manage the transformation and systematically shape the workplace of the future.”

CEOs understand that in order to make sure that the potentially negative impact from automation on employment and social security do not outweigh the benefits to productivity and value creation, they must proactively leverage technology to shape tomorrow’s workplace and work with government and other actors to lead the discussion on the broader societal, regulatory and institutional implications.


  • 81% of CEOs would lead by example and automate parts of their job.
  • 17% of CEOs passively manage the risks of automation and AI.           42% pre-empt the risks and pursue the opportunities, 41% proactively leverage technology to shape the workplace.
  • CEOs find it difficult to clearly communicate their company’s automation and AI strategy to their employees.
  • There is scope for leadership in the company, and on broader social impacts outside the company.


CEOs based in Japan and Hong Kong are the least proactive when it comes to automation, with 38% and 33% respectively saying that their preferred strategy is to passively deal with the risks as they come, compared with 17% overall who chose the same answer. Indonesia-based respondents are the most proactive, with 71% saying that their companies proactively leverage technology to shape tomorrow’s workplace.

A common theme that CEOs brought up in the focus group interviews was the diversity in societal, institutional, and technological circumstances that they face in different countries and industries. Some countries, like China, are more advanced in their adoption of automation and AI, whereas others, like Japan, have rigid work practices that discourage workplace disruption. Results from the survey also reflect how cross-country and cross-industrial differences affect the way automation impacts different workplaces and, consequently, what strategies are needed to successfully transform the workplace.

The research also suggested that CEOs do not believe their company’s automation strategy is consistently and clearly communicated to their employees.

Asia’s business leaders understand that they must take ownership of workplace transformation within their company, but also outside their company by leading the dialogue with governments and other actors about the broader societal impacts and implications of automation and AI.

“Business leaders seem to acknowledge that there is a real need for collaboration with government, educational institutions, and other actors in order to fully and proactively transform the workplace. They understand that disruptive changes in the workplace have complex reverberations in the broader society, and that the success or failure of their efforts to transform the workplace is tied to how the broader society perceives these transformations,” added Dr Kohlbacher.

Read the report: Automation, AI, and the future of work.


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