Ignoring AI could be a costly decision for leaders, experts warn
The Sector > Research > Innovative Research > Ignoring AI could be a costly decision for leaders, experts warn

Ignoring AI could be a costly decision for leaders, experts warn

by Freya Lucas

May 01, 2024

Organisations – including those who operate in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) space – that fail to recognise the strategic role of data and artificial intelligence risk being left behind, experts from PwC Australia have warned


In the piece below, we synthesise the information shared by PwC, realigned for an ECEC context. The information in its original format is available here


The convergence of business data with artificial intelligence (AI), particularly Generative AI (GenAI) is continuing to disrupt the ECEC landscape in a number of domains, from rostering and compliance elements to using AI to create observations of children’s learning. 


Data is essential in the ECEC sector, for aspects from maintaining accurate records of children’s attendance in order to predict budgets and rosters through to noticing and responding to trends in serious incidents in order to better protect children. 


ECEC organisations who fail to collect and make use of such data place themselves at risk in a number of ways from compliance through to reputational damage. 


Strategic investment in an AI and data strategy, PwC argues, can help organisations unlock opportunities for innovation, growth and sustained success. 


Developing a fit-for-purpose data and AI strategy can support organisations, both inside and outside of the ECEC context, can support organisations in a number of ways including: 


  • Getting more done with less 


Using data efficiently can help ECEC services to roster more effectively, improve their reach in the local community, and to identify patterns when it comes to serious incidents. 


Failing to make note of important data on aspects such as consumables consumption can lead to waste and cost inefficiencies. 


When ECEC services harness data insights they can forecast demand more efficiently and optimise human resources. 


Proactive maintenance, guided by AI predictive analytics, reduces downtime and ensures that assets operate at peak performance, contributing to cost savings and improved operational reliability, the PwC experts argue. 


  • Protecting sensitive data


Organisations that understand the vulnerability of the data they hold, when it comes to sensitive data about children and their families, are more likely to take the steps needed to secure it. 


When ECEC services consider introducing AI tools to their environment, be it for children or for employees, it is very important to understand the sensitivity of the data they hold, and how it can be categorised and protected so that they understand what data any tools may be accessing and how it will be used or stored. 


There are compliance based and legal implications for failing to protect data, as well as the ethical implications of data about children falling into the wrong hands. 


In larger organisations, changes to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 in March 2023 will have relevance to ECEC employers, with requirements relating to the publication of gender pay gaps, another aspect where accurate data and AI driven insights may be of use. 


Investing in data and AI is identified as a key pillar for business model reinvention, in PwC’s new 27th Annual Global CEO Survey – Australian insights, given its potential to unlock benefits that can “catapult organisations into a new realm of competitiveness.”


Leaders, PwC argues, “must embrace the transformative power of data and AI, not just as technological tools but as integral components of a future-ready business strategy.”


To access the original coverage of this story please see here. 

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