Australian businesses are ahead of their global counterparts in the deployment of artificial intelligence and are spending big on the technology, according to a report. Nearly two thirds of the 200 large Australian businesses (those with more than 1,000 employees and $500 million annual revenue) surveyed said they were already using AI, compared with only a quarter of businesses globally. Most commonly the technology is being used on these shores for big data automation, predictive analytics and machine learning, research by Infosys found. \u201cThough many Australian\u2019s may not recognise it, AI is all around us,\u201d said Andrew Groth, senior vice president, Infosys Australia and New Zealand. \u201cAdoption is on the rise and we are excited to see the investments in AI that businesses are gradually making to derive meaningful and creative change. The achievements are remarkable and the opportunities AI is bringing forth are vast. \u201cAs we are seeing AI mature and gain momentum, our research shows that the next four years will witness further spikes in interest, and general bullishness about the significant value and benefits that can be obtained through AI adoption.\u201d AI big spender The average amount being spent on AI by Australian organisations was $8.2 million, the second highest globally after the US.The automation of business processes was reported to be the key driver in implementing AI by 66 per cent of local firms, followed by cost savings (62 per cent), improved decision making (55 per cent) and to boost employee productivity (54 per cent). Of those businesses that had already deployed AI in some way, cost savings was the most common benefit experienced, followed by process automation and increased revenue. Many of those that hadn\u2019t invested yet believed they needed to: almost half (47 per cent) of Australian business leaders believe that the future growth of their organisation depends on AI adoption. Lack of skills As is often the story in Australia, a lack of skills was perceived as a barrier to adoption by many businesses. Some 23 per cent said they had no AI related skills within their organisation, the highest of the seven countries surveyed and way above the global average of 10 per cent. Groth added that this highlighted the need for a greater focus on STEM education in Australia. \u201cThere is a need for changes to school and university curricula to be more experiential and to engrain an ethos of lifelong learning and upskilling within the next generation of Australia\u2019s workforce. It\u2019s the responsibility of our government, businesses, educators and the community to enable us to reskill many times during our work lifetime,\u201d he said.