A new report says Australia’s retail sector could unlock billions of dollars in value by 2030 if it accelerates the responsible adoption of generative artificial intelligence (GAI).
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.
Unlocking the potential benefits of GAI for retail
The key drivers of value for GAI in the retail sector are better customer support and personalised experiences, as well as streamlined backend operations. According to the report, GAI can automate 30 per cent and augment 32 per cent of the tasks performed by a shop sales assistant, for example. This means more time can be invested in improving customer experiences and products.
In addition, GAI can improve the productivity of customer support workers by 14 per cent, as well as drive greater customer engagement and personalisation of products.
Kate Pounder, Chief Executive Officer at the Tech Council, said: “Having invested heavily in omnichannel capabilities during the COVID pandemic, Australia’s retail industry is now primed to integrate generative AI into existing digital platforms. This stands to benefit companies striving to innovate and stand out, and customers wanting better service and prices.”
Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) is one Australian company that is exploring GAI. Its Chief Financial Officer, Adam Campbell, recognises the technology’s potential to significantly increase FCTG’s profitability while delivering a better customer experience.
“We have recently been exploring several use cases for generative AI with some of our key partners in this space to help us optimise processes, increase our efficiency and generate more valuable insights,” Campbell said.
Lee Hickin, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, said: “We’re proud to partner with the Tech Council on this timely report. Generative AI has emerged as a transformative technology in 2023, with its adoption growing rapidly across various sectors in Australia. 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 generative AI, 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.”
The other three key sectors identified in the report are healthcare, manufacturing, and professional and financial services. The report details potential use cases for GAI in each of these sectors and the subsequent economic value that could be generated using the technology.
Leveraging Australia’s comparative advantages and taking strategic actions
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.
Leveraging Australia’s comparative advantages in digital technology is key to spurring this collaboration. They include a large and highly skilled tech workforce, strong investment in digital infrastructure and a high level of cloud computing adoption.
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.
To learn more, read the report here.