Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Unlocking Indonesia’s Digital Economy Potential with AI and Digital Skilling

Sujith Abraham
August 31, 2023 | 6:43 pm
Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce Asean.
Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce Asean.

Indonesia has made huge strides in digitalisation over the years. It is the largest digital economy in ASEAN, and further growth of up to $2.8 trillion is expected by 2040, as part of ongoing technological adoption.

Within the Java region alone, new technology adoption is expected to create economic growth of up to 6.65 percent from 2030 to 2040. There is no better time for businesses to embrace digitalisation – and emerging AI tools will only help businesses make sense of vast amounts of customer data, access deeper insights and make informed decisions, faster. Going a step further, the generative AI market in Indonesia is forecasted to grow by 24.4 percent CAGR by 2023, empowering Indonesian businesses to deliver personalisation at scale, enabling personalised customer experiences across every interaction and channel, at all times. 

As Indonesian businesses embrace digital transformation, jobs will inevitably change. In fact, AI is projected to alter tasks for at least 80 percent of all jobs. For example, in healthcare, automation will help professionals sort through medical images to better advise patients and diagnose conditions faster. In manufacturing, tasks of quality control and inspection will free up workers' time so that they can focus on more strategic jobs.

These reasons make it critical for business leaders to prepare their workforce to take on the jobs of the future. In my view, this comes down to businesses taking two key actions: enablement and empowerment. This involves providing workers with the necessary skills to use AI solutions that are increasingly becoming the fabric of everyday systems, and empowering these workers with the confidence and tools to innovate and experiment.


Building Digital Readiness Through Skills-Enablement 
It is the responsibility of businesses to build digital readiness and aptitude for digital tools amongst their workforce. This ensures job relevance for all employees and should start with structured training systems and learning opportunities for them to gain hard and soft skills required to use digital technologies and AI tools at work.  

You might ask: “Who do businesses skill up? What kind of skill sets does the workforce need?”

The short answer is that the majority will use AI and generative AI that is already embedded into everyday work systems. It’s important that they understand the best ways to work with AI, its most effective and accurate use cases, as well as how to validate AI-generated responses, and spot red flags and their implications. Not all employees will take on technical roles like machine learning engineers and data scientists, which require more comprehensive hard skills, such as modern programming languages, software development methodologies and data mining, among others. 

The good news is that businesses need not shoulder the responsibility of skilling alone. It takes an entire ecosystem – close collaboration between the public and private sectors to implement skilling programs, and the initiative of individual employees to seek available learning resources to skill up. 

Many in Indonesia are already taking charge of their own learning journey and paving their own pathways to new jobs. Sugandi Lin, who leveraged free learning materials from Trailhead to land a job as an IT consultant in Jakarta without any prior tech experience, is a great example. He had previously found it difficult to secure an IT role, even with an Information Systems degree. Today, Sugandi is the Salesforce Effectiveness Specialist at Siloam Hospitals Group, and is responsible for the successful implementation of the Salesforce Sales Automation System at its head office and across all 41 hospital units. 

The addition of Salesforce’s CRM curriculum and training as part of KOMINFO’s Digital Talent Scholarship Program will also provide new pathways for Indonesians to build their Salesforce Administrator, Developer and App Builder capabilities. 

Empowering Innovation and Experimentation
At the same time, leaders need to forge a culture of innovation and experimentation among their workforce, to take full advantage of the mountain of data that their businesses are sitting on. Using and experimenting with tools like generative AI app integrations, different language models, and the power to tap into secure customer data insights, companies can unlock the power of real-time CRM and conversational data to make every team more productive and every customer interaction more personalized.

In many cases, this starts with seeing AI as a virtual assistant that automates time-intensive and mundane tasks and helps to break down the barriers faced by the workforce in getting their jobs done. Companies can make use of AI to drive empowerment and access – automating mundane tasks, enabling quicker service delivery, allowing personalization at scale, and boosting workforce productivity – rather than replacing jobs. 

By empowering workers with the confidence and the right capabilities, Indonesian businesses can unlock enormous potential and drive greater impact for their customers, employees and stakeholders. In a world where companies are increasingly judged on the quality of their customer experiences, delivering seamless and personalized journeys - and upskilling teams so their business can quickly adapt - will be crucial to staying competitive.

Embedding AI and Skills into Business Strategy 
As Indonesian businesses race to embrace new technology, it’s also critical that they do so inclusively and intentionally. Priming tech infrastructure, developing a data strategy, and ensuring that the business is aligned with security and ethical guidelines are important foundations for wider tech adoption. However, matching their workforce development strategy is key to unlocking the full potential of Indonesia’s digital economy, and will steer future innovation and growth.



Sujith Abraham is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Salesforce Asean.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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