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The AI urgency in APAC

Published: 22/February/2024

Reading time: 3 mins

Key Takeaways

⇨ Both Australia and Singapore have plans to build AI capabilities

⇨ SAP announces an end-to-end growth area focused on AI

⇨ SAP Labs Singapore has been named a global AI hub

This month both Australia and Singapore have proffered plans to build out their AI capabilities as the race to become the go-to country for artificial intelligence (AI) and AI productivity gains heats up. Hence last week’s SAP announcement in Germany of an end-to-end growth area focused on AI is well timed for the APAC region.

“Australian business is already adopting AI through its integration with existing software and services – but to get the big productivity dividends we need business to transform core systems and adopt new tools as they emerge. Governments can support this by investing in skills and digital infrastructure and modelling best practice,” said Commissioner Stephen King in the Australian Government Productivity Commission research paper, Making the most of the AI opportunity.

AI featured in the Singapore FY2024 Budget with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Lawrence Wong, stating that Singapore aims to go further in AI development, building new peaks of excellence, and attracting private sector investments as set out in the National AI Strategy 2.0.

“To support this strategy and further catalyse AI activities, I will invest more than $1 billion over the next five years into AI compute, talent, and industry development,” announced the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance.

A boost for SAP Business AI

SAP’s newly established division underscores the central importance of business AI as a strategic driver for SAP’s ongoing growth, and is led by Dr. Philipp Herzig as chief artificial intelligence officer (CAIO). It follows the announcement last month of a collaboration between the Sky Computing Lab at the University of California (UC), Berkeley and SAP to support the university’s cutting-edge research on interconnected cloud technology in the context of artificial intelligence (AI).

“There’s no technology advancing faster than AI,” Herzig said. “While the progress on foundation models is impressive, there is a lot to learn and shape on the AI stack on top, in particular for designing and scaling distributed cloud applications in multi-cloud environments or to build AI agents in combination with large language models. The Sky Computing Lab at UC Berkeley conducts very relevant research in this field, and the frameworks that are being built look very promising.”

UC Berkeley’s research activities focus on enabling users to run large language model applications and general AI workloads seamlessly on any cloud, substantially reducing cloud costs, tapping into best-in-class hardware on different clouds and enjoying higher resource availability, according to Ion Stoica, director of the Sky Computing Lab at UC Berkeley.

In the new division Herzig’s team will collaborate with innovators across SAP to infuse artificial intelligence into every part of the company’s portfolio. With this new setup, SAP aims to further accelerate the pace at which customers can benefit from groundbreaking business AI solutions and services.

“SAP’s increased focus on business AI marks the start of a completely new generation of enterprise innovation,” said Herzig.

Regional strengths in AI

Regionally, SAP and the Singapore Government are aligned in their approach for developing AI capabilities.

“We will also work with leading companies in Singapore and around the world to set up their AI Centres of Excellence here. We want these Centres to spur industry collaboration and innovation, and drive greater value creation across the whole economy,” noted Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Lawrence Wong.

According to Eileen Chua, Managing Director of SAP Singapore in a Marketech APAC article, SAP has named SAP Labs Singapore as a global AI hub, with the aim of developing reliable, relevant and responsible business AI applications for customers and partners globally, while fostering innovation through a private, public partnership approach.

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