KUALA LUMPUR: Despite almost half of consumers in Malaysia (47%) favoring artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted brand interactions, a new report shows brands in Malaysia are trailing the world in harnessing the latest AI innovations.

According to Adobe’s State of Digital Customer Experience report, almost half of consumers in Malaysia (47%) would choose an AI-enabled tool or service over a human interaction, far more than the global average of 39%. Many more want both options to be available, particularly when exploring new products and services.

Despite these preferences, and consumers in Malaysia anticipating customer experience (CX) benefits from generative AI, brands are falling behind global peers. Only 8% are leveraging generative AI to enhance CX initiatives compared to 18% globally. 11% of brands globally are currently establishing upskilling initiatives to work with generative AI, compared to 6% of brands in Malaysia. Interestingly, brands in Malaysia (22%) are slightly more likely than brands globally (20%) to have already briefed senior leadership on organizational implications.

However, brands in Malaysia are committed to improving their generative AI capabilities in the next 12 months, with 33% saying it is their primary CX focus. That puts it fourth on the strategic agenda, with a similar proportion as investing in new technologies that touch or impact the CX (32%), breaking down organizational silos (36%), and more than half as integrating the CX technology stack (61 %).

“Consumers are swiftly embracing generative AI-led experiences. While brands in Malaysia are lagging behind in terms of AI adoption, our findings indicate that this will soon evolve as Malaysia as well as other Asia markets are well poised for an accelerated uptake amid continued realization of the direct benefits that generative AI offers and its strength position as a technological hub. When it comes to business strategies, most brands in Malaysia acknowledge that improving the customer experience is of top or significant priority. This is driving brands to focus on evolving their digital experiences, underscored by a strategic emphasis on flexible and highly personalized interactions,” said Simon Dale, vice-president Asia, Adobe.

“Consumers have emphasized that their most impactful brand experiences are those that are relevant and personalized to their preferences. As brands continue to digitalize at full speed to meet expectations, it is crucial that they also strategically navigate data privacy and security concerns so as not to jeopardize their relationship with customers,” said Dale.

Consumers in Malaysia are more data-conscious in the generative AI era.

More than two-thirds of consumers in Malaysia (77%) want brands to offer the same level of personalization online and in-person, and they want unified, seamless experiences in every interaction. However, meeting this expectation remains a top challenge for brands.

Most are yet to adopt the data-driven technology tools and capabilities needed to deliver personalization at scale and keep pace with customer preferences.

Both consumers and brands agree that data privacy and security concerns restrain personalization. 22% of brands in Malaysia say consumer reluctance to share data is a top barrier, but they underestimate the impact of data mistakes. 69% of consumers in Malaysia will stop or consider not buying from a brand that isn’t transparent about personal data use, but only 26% of brands believe it impacts retention.

Consumer attention on data practices extends to generative AI. Consumers in Malaysia are worried that as brands use generative AI, their personal data will be used without consent (59%) and that too much data will be collected (64%).

Across Malaysia, many brands are yet to respond to the need for stronger AI guardrails to meet consumer expectations and ensure trust isn’t compromised. Just 10% of brands in Malaysia have ongoing initiatives to create internal usage policies.

The State of Digital Customer Experience research is derived from a global survey of 4,000 consumers and 1,500 executives and direct reports (collectively referred to as “brands”). The survey, conducted by Oxford Economics, was in the field between June and August 2023. The Asia Pacific analysis comprises a sample of 1,000 consumers and 375 executives from Japan, Singapore, India, Australia and New Zealand, Malaysia, and Thailand.

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