By Anthony Macciola

31 July 2019


MILPITAS, CA — Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA) are growing exponentially, propelling innovation and digitally transforming organizations worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region specifically, IDC expects spending on AI-enabled systems to reach $5.5 billion this year, an almost 80% increase over 2018, and $15.06 billion in 2022. And when we narrow in on Hong Kong, the government has devoted more resources to enhance the development of AI technology to the tune of HK$10 billion (US$1.28 billion). The expectations of AI and digital transformation are high, and the opportunities are infinite.

Furthermore, a recent Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific study, “Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia’s Growth Potential Through AI,” found that 74% of leaders said AI is instrumental for their organization’s competitiveness, and 40% of organizations in Hong Kong have already started their AI journeys. Also, big returns are expected. Companies that have adopted AI expect it to increase their competitiveness by 2.6 times by 2021.

But, exactly how and where within their organization will business leaders incorporate AI is up for discussion. The main drivers, however, are to accelerate digital transformation and boost employee productivity to further growth.

Accelerate digital transformation

Since digital transformation can look different from one organization to the next, most experts describe it as when organizations are transforming their legacy business processes into fully digital transactions.  The AI-enabling technologies for digital transformation are intelligent capture, in the form of Content IQ skills, and robotic process automation (RPA), a technology that automates business process activities by utilizing software robots that mimic the steps human employees take to accomplish a wide range of tasks. They are the critical technologies of digital transformation that bring together an intuitive understanding of content and automatically extract all relevant information from documents.

When working together, RPA and Content IQ technologies automate a wide array of repetitive tasks along with the handling of both structured and unstructured content. By utilizing these technologies, organizations can connect legacy systems and other data sources to improve processes. They allow processes to identify and understand content, which is key to the success of any digital transformation initiative. It is especially critical to improving the customer experience by simplifying tasks like customer on-boarding, enrollment, on-line applications, interactive communications and other customer facing services.

Companies like Fuji Xerox Hong Kong, Nikoyo (HK) Ltd., and Tech Mahindra have already gained benefits by using these transformative solutions.

Boost employee productivity and the future of work

Automation and AI are key drivers in the future of work. They have also been the catalyst for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology is merging the physical, digital and biological worlds. These technological and societal forces are requiring large-scale changes to job and skill demand to improve employee productivity – to the point where we will now find humans working alongside a digital workforce (RPA software bots).

The One Country Two Systems Research Institute and the University of Oxford looked into how automation will impact the future of work and found that 28% of jobs in Hong Kong will be automated in the next 10 to 20 years. Their research also confirmed that AI is proven to be better than humans in various areas, particularly voice recognitionimage recognition and natural language processing.

We can expect many industries such as financial services, insurance, transportation and logistics and healthcare, to add AI technologies to automation and more people working alongside digital workers. It’s a reality more organizations are embracing to improve business operations. However, be rest assured that human employees will continue be vital to businesses. The new skills AI delivers should be viewed as a job redistributor, one that will augment people’s career trajectories.

Path towards digital intelligence

The intelligence of your enterprise sits within your content, but you need the IQ to harness it. As organizations mature in their digital transformation journey, they will need more insight into the efficiencies of their business processes through process intelligence.

The ability to understand enterprise content in all its forms within the context of critical processes is a level of digital intelligence that enterprises will need in order for their digital transformation to be successful.


Anthony Macciola is a seasoned veteran of the tech industry, with over 30 years of experience in software, hardware, and algorithm development. He joined ABBYY’s Executive Management Team as Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) in October 2017. In this role, Anthony formulates ABBYY’s market-focused vision and strategy for driving innovation, develops new product concepts and evangelizes strategic marketing strategies.