Feature Articles

Is trust in AI holding up its use and adoption in Singapore?

By Ken Wong - 13 May 2024

Is trust in AI holding up its use and adoption in Singapore?

Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce ASEAN

Could trust be holding up the use and adoption of AI amongst workers in Singapore? According to a Salesforce survey, the “AI Trust Quotient” nearly half (48%) of workers in Singapore say it is difficult to get what they want out of AI, and 40% do not trust the data used to train AI systems.

This was the point made by speakers during Salesforce’s World Tour Essentials Asia 2024 that was held at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre recently.

The study, which surveyed 545 full-time workers in Singapore and nearly 6,000 globally, also found that more than half of workers in Singapore (58%) fear humans will lose control of AI, and 94% do not currently trust AI to operate without human oversight.

This lack of trust in turn was hurting AI’s adoption by workers and businesses with 95% of workers who didn’t trust AI saying that they were hesitant to adopt it.

Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce ASEAN said:

Adoption of AI within the workforce is critical if businesses are to achieve their goals of increasing employee engagement and productivity which is foundational to higher value customer relationships and margins. But in order to use it, they need to trust it. AI is only as good as the data powering it, and new research shows that data makes or breaks the workforce’s trust in AI. Businesses need to unify their data across systems for AI to deliver useful, accurate outputs that workers trust. This has to be supported by keeping humans in the driver's seat of AI, empowering them to focus on the most important outcomes as we enter a new era of AI innovation. Only then can businesses achieve value from AI through better adoption.

One way to drive trust was to create opportunities for staff to try the AI solution to see the results for themselves.

Peter Doolan, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Slack at Salesforce said, “It’s important to create small opportunities for employees to use AI for productivity benefits, such as finding common meeting slots amongst your team. Experiences like these that drive productivity will build workers' exposure and confidence in AI, which drives adoption.”

Education becomes a key adoption driver

Panelists (from L to R): Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce ASEAN, Peter Doolan, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Slack at Salesforce, Laurence Liew, Director for AI Innovation, AI Singapore, and Mac Munsayac, Head of Customer Experience at Philippine Airlines.

This was emphasised during a panel discussion where one of the speakers, Laurence Liew, the Director for AI Innovation at AI Singapore said that education of a business’s staff was important here. “The findings of Salesforce's AI Trust Quotient resonate strongly with our experience at AI Singapore. Building trust in AI is crucial for successful adoption, and this requires a multi-faceted approach,” Liew said, adding that education was important. He added, “You can bring in the top minds can introduce the best AI solutions but if you don't education the people who actually use the system in how to use it correctly, and how to use it responsibly, it won’t take off.”

This point was reinforced by Salesforce’s survey results that found that within the human-led factors that can drive more trust in AI amongst Singapore workers are more skill-building or training opportunities (74%).

An attendee raised the question of self-learning and how much emphasis a company’s management should place on the employee to upskill given the importance of AI and all the relevant support provided by the Singapore Government, Doolan, the Chief Customer Officer at Slack (which has been part of Salesforce since 2020), said that the company fundamentally feels that there's a responsibility for organisations to train its staff. “We do it internally and we make this learning available to anyone. We put a lot of content out there for free on trailhead.com,” he said.

Part of the emphasis the Singapore Government put on the development of AI skills and training was so that Singapore workers would be able to unlock the full potential of AI and not be left behind or in danger of being replaced.

As Liew put it, “There are many grants and initiatives available to companies and individuals looking to build AI skills, but the responsibility for learning lies with individuals. AI won’t replace you at your job, but you might get replaced by someone who uses AI.”

One way to drive trust was to create opportunities for staff to try the AI solution to see the results for themselves.

Doolan said, “It’s important to create small opportunities for employees to use AI for productivity benefits, such as finding common meeting slots amongst your team. Experiences like these that drive productivity will build workers' exposure and confidence in AI, which drives adoption.”

This point was driven home by panellist Mac Munsayac, Head of Customer Experience at Philippine Airlines said, “AI is not meant to replace the workforce. It’s meant to complement them, providing insights for quick and informed decision-making. AI helps workers do their work faster, and provide better customer service.”

Retaining the human factor

Mac Munsayac, Head of Customer Experience at Philippine Airlines having a fireside chat.

One other point raised by the Salesforce survey was that as AI becomes more sophisticated, we must keep humans at the helm.

What is driving this is that Singapore workers feel that humans must be in the driver’s seat of AI with 94% do not trust AI to operate without human oversight. 90% of workers in Singapore do not trust AI to keep data safe on its own, but 59% trust AI and humans to keep data safe together. This combines the best of human and machine intelligence to create more productive businesses, empowered employees, and trustworthy AI.

As Munsayac put things, “We are not at the stage where AI is fully autonomous. Depending on the risk level of the customer service request, we still need to have our human employees verify AI outputs.”

New Salesforce tools to unlock AI’s potential

Einstein Copilot is Salesforce’s conversational AI assistant for CRM.

To help organisations in Singapore and ASEAN accelerate AI adoption, Salesforce announced the launch of AI and data solutions, Einstein Copilot, Tableau Pulse, Slack AI, with Einstein Copilot for Tableau now in beta.

Einstein Copilot is Salesforce’s conversational AI assistant for CRM. Now in General Availability to organisations in Singapore and ASEAN it features new capabilities and sales actions designed to enhance sales productivity and scale adoption of generative AI. It also features platform enhancements such as Copilot Analytics, which enables admins to track and audit usage of Einstein Copilot and uncover trends in adoption to scale deployments.

Tableau Pulse allows users to make better and faster decisions with generative AI and analytics. It allows users to create queries based on natural language and visuals, making it easier for users to discover important metrics, gain insights, ask questions, and tie data to real-world context. 

Slack AI is available to all paid Slack customers with expanded language support. Slack AI provides a generative AI experience natively in Slack with AI-powered search, conversation summaries, and a new recap feature. These allow users to find answers, knowledge, and ideas faster. 

Einstein Copilot for Tableau is now in beta. The new AI assistant makes data analysis accessible to users through a guided, natural language-driven analytics experience. Features include recommended questions and conversational data exploration to help users get insights from data sources like spreadsheets, data warehouses, and Salesforce Data Cloud for faster decision-making. 

Overcoming the trust conundrum

Image source: Unsplash.It is clear that it is important to overcome this AI trust gap for businesses to adopt and for workers to use AI properly and effectively.  With AI set to play an even bigger role in the economy and our lives, we risk being left behind in our work and as an economy if we are too afraid to fully embrace it.

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