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Generative AI: "She'll be right" approach in Australia

Australia's Gen AI adoption rate is among the lowest in the Asia Pacific, suggesting we risk being left behind.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) continues to transform work and study in Australia. Only last week, demonstration videos of the latest version of ChatGPT showed the application can now speak like a human, translate languages on the fly, guide you through solving a mathematical problem via its camera, and even sing. Other applications like Midjourney and GitHub Copilot continue to grow in capabilities and are being joined by the likes of Gemini and Claude. 

So how is this powerful tool being used by Australian employees and businesses? 

To find out, Deloitte Access Economics released Generative AI: Australia this week, which is an update to the previous Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come! report released in 2023. The latest research findings are based on a survey of nearly 12,000 Asia Pacific residents, including nearly 1,300 Australian students and employees.

GenAI use among Australian employees continues to grow rapidly. In the past 12 months, the report finds that GenAI use in Australian workplaces has increased from 32% to 38% of all employees – a 20% increase in users in less than one year.

Employees have also changed how they are using GenAI applications, moving from an experimentation phase to systematically using tools in their day-to-day work. In the past 12 months, 64% of GenAI users have increased the amount they engage with the technology and 20% have more than doubled their use. Employees are also utilising GenAI more frequently and for a greater number of tasks, including creating written content, generating ideas, and conducting research.

And GenAI users are experiencing large improvements in their productivity, performance and wellbeing. According to the report GenAI has:

  • Increased the speed at which users can complete tasks (75% of users agreed)
  • Advanced their ability to generate new ideas (70%)
  • Improved the nature of their work and/or study (64%), reflecting that Gen AI allows users to automate repetitive tasks and focus on engaging projects. 

However, there are still anxieties when it comes to the technology. Australian employees are now more concerned than ever about the GenAI risks, and in the last 12 months, the percentage of employees alarmed about GenAI making factual errors has increased from 73% to 87%. Other major concerns in 2024 include the misuse of sensitive information (89%) and copyright infringement (84%). 

Australian businesses need to do more to address these risks identified by their people. Nearly half (47%) of Australian employees using GenAI are not aware of any actions taken by their business to respond to its rapid emergence. This may reflect either a lack of action or a breakdown in communication between senior leaders and employees about the response to this important development. As a result, only 20% of employees believe their business is taking full advantage of GenAI – and businesses that fail to guide employees and explore the use of GenAI risk being left behind by competitors. 

What’s more, Australia is lagging behind other markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia has the second lowest share of GenAI usage of Asia Pacific locations surveyed, at 54% compared to a regional average of 67%. In fact, developing countries have a 30% higher share of GenAI users than more developed countries, reflecting that they have generally younger populations and so more “digitally native” people as a share of the percentage of their labour forces.

Chart 1: Australia has the second lowest share of Gen AI users of Asia Pacific locations surveyed

Source: Deloitte Gen AI survey (2024)

When it comes to disruption, GenAI is expected to impact professional and managerial roles more than any other. So developed countries, like Australia (where these roles make up 39% of the total workforce), have a significant opportunity to utilise the technology to harness the productivity impact of Gen AI. 

This newsletter was distributed on 23 May 2024. For any questions/comments on this week's newsletter, please contact our authors:

This blog was co-authored by Katie McGregor, Economist and Vonnie Herbert, Senior Economist at Deloitte Access Economics

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