Study: China Outpacing US in AI Use in the Workplace

While China may be beating the US when it comes to using AI, the study shows it's not as fast to fully implement the tech.

A recent study has uncovered that the use of generative AI (GenAI) by organizations in China is outpacing those in the US, with 83% of China’s business decision makers reported using the technology, as opposed to just 65% in the US – behind the UK but ahead of Australia.

However, China doesn’t have the upper hand across the board, as almost a quarter of the US business leaders surveyed (24%) had fully implemented GenAI within their organizations. In this domain, they were leading the way, leaving China trailing behind with 19% have full integrated the tech into their business architecture.

The fully tested implementation of GenAI, rather than its overall use, may be a better indicator of future success. As Stephen Saw, Managing Director for Coleman Parks commented of the report’s findings, “higher adoption doesn’t necessarily equate to effective implementation of better returns.”

AI is a Marathon Not a Sprint

The SAS study into global AI adoption in the workplace, surveyed 1,600 decision makers in key markets and across a range of industries.

Bryan Harris, Executive Vice President at SAS, stated that it is necessary for companies to separate “hype from reality,” and to focus instead on “purposefully implementing and delivering repeatable and trusted business results.” Considering the various ethical concerns about AI’s usage, including around data privacy, it seems sensible for businesses to adopt a more measured approach.

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In terms of full implementation regionally, North America (the US and Canada) was the leading example with 20%. Although far from an outlier, the APAC region (including countries like China, Australia, and Japan, among others) reported that exactly half that figure (10%) had fully implemented AI into their companies’ daily processes.

Business Obstacles to Implementing GenAI Identified

Three of the main concerns that global business leaders identified as impeding their effective utilization of GenAI were:

• Lack of a Clear GenAI strategy. Nine out of 10 Senior Technology decision makers didn’t understand how GenAI impacted business processes.

• Insufficient data. There was not the quantity of data needed to train Large Language Models (LLMs), like OpenAI’s upcoming ChatGPT-5.

• AI regulation. Only a third of the companies felt they were equipped to comply with incoming regulations and only 5% had a reliable system to safeguard against bias and privacy concerns.

Hampering organizations globally from embracing GenAI’s potential appears to be down to a lack of a business strategy and serious knowledge gaps, with key information failing to trickle down from senior decision makers. Despite the obstacles, however, early adopters have reported hugely positive benefits.

What are the Benefits of GenAI?

The SAS Institute study provides some very promising feedback on AI’s real-world benefits. They not only improved a company’s bottom line (operational costs were reported to be lower) but brought improved satisfaction levels across the board, from employees to customers.

Of those working with GenAI, 89% noted “improved employee experience.” Businesses utilizing AI were also more likely to keep customers happy, with 82% noting that “customer retention is higher.”

Additionally, research by J.P. Morgan underscored some key reasons why preparing your company for GenAI was the sensible thing to do to remain competitive. Their findings cited that the technology:

• Reduced the money and time needed for content creation
Boosted productivity and profitability
• Helped facilitate innovation and improved business models

They also concluded that GenAI could “result in a massive workplace productivity boom over the next one to three years,” in addition to stimulating the economy and adding $7-10 trillion to worldwide GDP.

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Written by:
Daniel is a freelance writer and journalist with over 10 years’ experience. Since 2019 he’s worked with multiple brands under the Future PLC umbrella – Tom’s Guide, T3, What Hi-Fi?, TechRadar and more – to keep an international audience informed of the latest developments in the consumer technology and TV streaming space. After receiving his MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture, Daniel also worked as a visual arts critic: writing reviews for publications like The Brooklyn Rail, Photomonitor, and Aesthetica both online and in print.
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