Google Hong Kong releases the Smarter Digital City - AI for Everyone whitepaper

Google Hong Kong releases the Smarter Digital City...

Newly released AI Readiness Index conducted by KPMG showed Hong Kong residents and businesses are optimistic about AI. Enhanced knowledge and willingness to invest for the future help accelerate AI adoption and advance Hong Kong as a Smarter Digital City


Hong Kong, October 15, 2020 - Google Hong Kong today released the first edition of the “Smarter Digital City - AI for Everyone” whitepaper and unveiled the new benchmark “AI Readiness Index”. Google Hong Kong embarked on a new three-year program of longitudinal research, conducted by KPMG, discussed the topic of AI adoption and readiness in Hong Kong. This year’s AI Readiness Index among residents and businesses across four key business verticals is 50 and 56 out of 100 points respectively. This signals a solid foundation and positive outlook for Hong Kong adopting AI and new technologies.

Leonie Valentine, Managing Director, Sales & Operations, Google Hong Kong commented, “We have all experienced the dramatic turn of events over the course of 2020, and the pandemic has affected everyone in Hong Kong. This new report outlines how adopting technology and realising the benefits of AI can assist the city’s economic recovery. AI is already embedded in consumer products, services and apps that Hong Kongers use every day. It is also a foundational technology for many business productivity tools, cloud solutions, and digital marketing platforms which have been widely adopted by enterprises in Hong Kong. Encouragingly, Hong Kong residents and businesses are optimistic about AI, and are eager to learn and master AI knowledge to stay competitive. This lays a good foundation for a Smarter Digital City.”

“Post COVID-19, collaborating and building a sustainable smart workforce is more critical than ever. To help everyone understand more about AI, we’re excited to launch the Traditional Chinese version of A-Z of AI guide for Hong Kong. This guide offers a series of bite-sized AI explainers. We’re glad that local tertiary education institutions also express interest in adopting AI teaching materials by Google including Explore ML and TensorFlow, in their curriculums,” said Valentine.

James O’Callaghan, Partner, Head of Technology Consulting, Hong Kong, KPMG China, said, “We are excited to have worked with Google Hong Kong on this timely research, when the pandemic has clearly accelerated digital transformation across many sectors and changed individuals’ behaviours. The report sets a new benchmark for evaluating the maturity of AI adoption in the city and provides insights to the level of know-how, confidence, set-up, usage and spending on AI, which helps businesses and policymakers better formulate strategies to meet new and evolving demands.”

Recognising the AI for good, gaps in knowledge and talent yet to be filled

Both Hong Kong residents and businesses recognise the benefits of AI. 65% of residents expect that AI can help improve society in general, while 63% cite ease and convenience as the key reasons for adopting AI, including smart translation (80%) and route optimisation (79%) as the most frequently used AI-powered products and services. However, worries about use of data without prior know-how and permission (49%) and cost (40%) pose barriers. Residents also expect the private (70%) and public sectors (81%) to drive AI education, and many showed interest in areas of general understanding of AI and machine learning (44%), application and use cases of AI and Machine Learning (44%) as well as data science and data analytics (42%).

For businesses, 78% of businesses believe AI is beneficial and can bring improvements, particularly in improving quality and enhancing efficiency. However, across the board, financial gaps (56%), knowledge gaps (51%) and talent gaps (50%) are barriers for adoption. Taking a closer look at the Index’s five parameters, Hong Kong businesses are keen to investigate future investment in AI, resulting in a higher score in Spending but many lack expertise in AI and the ability to attract AI talent, which is reflected by the lower score in Know-how. While 49% of businesses have a data strategy for the company in place, only 31% currently operate an in-house data warehouse or seek to enrich data from third-party sources. Businesses need to have the right set-up and realign operating models to build a solid foundation for their AI journey, for example, by leveraging cloud solutions and formulating data management guidelines.

AI can help businesses to mitigate risks, improve efficiency, enhance products and services, and deliver experiences that align with fast-changing customer needs. Indeed, many AI-powered solutions are relevant for Hong Kong’s SMBs. SMBs look for immediate ROI on AI investments, with 31% citing insufficient financial support as a barrier to adoption, compared with 21% of corporates. Business owners should clearly identify critical business needs to be addressed and consider plug-and-play solutions, for example, applying analytics to optimise their product and stock mix or to manage their supply chain.

Accelerate AI application and adoption

COVID-19 has triggered an immense increase in digital solutions and game-changing moments for both private and public sectors to rethink and reset the journey ahead. It is important to promote trust in AI for good and help people better understand and manage their data while making good use of products and services powered by AI.

As a key ecosystem partner, policymakers and regulators also play a crucial role in nurturing the AI ecosystem by boosting confidence and addressing businesses’ uncertainty with regulatory requirements. There is enormous potential for the public and private sectors to work together on education and reskilling. For private sectors, building data capabilities across the business helps make smarter strategic decisions, while bridging the knowledge and talent gaps bring long-term success.

Download the full research report “Smarter Digital City - AI for Everyone” on Google for Hong Kong website (


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For media enquiries, please contact:

Marisa Lam
Tel: 9250 6186

Natasha Yong
Tel: 6016 3037

Google Hong Kong
Betty Wong


Statistics and Figures
source: Smarter Digital City - AI for Everyone whitepaper 2020


Residents AI Readiness Index
All residents 50
18-24 51
25-34 54
35-44 52
45-54 48
55-64 44

Perception on AI Usage

  • 66% of HK residents use AI embedded services and technology
  • 47% of HK residents are open to using AI in daily life
  • Top expected benefits:
    • Improve society (65%)
    • Make things easier and more convenient (63%)
    • Do things faster (55%)
  • Top barriers of adopting AI
    • Worried the data being used without their knowledge and permission (49%)
    • Expensive cost (40%)
    • As a threat to humans (2%)
  • Residents expect the private (70%) and public sectors (81%) to drive AI education
  • Top AI topics residents seek to learn about
    • General understanding of AI and Machine Learning (44%)
    • Application and use cases of AI and Machine Learning (44%) 
    • Data science and data analytics (42%)


Business AI Readiness Index
Overall 56
Finance 63
Technology & Innovation 59
Travel & Logistics 53
Retail 51

A closer look at the 5 pillars in AI Readiness Index:

  Know-how Confidence Set-up Usage Spending
Overall 52 64 55 45 66
Finance 60 67 64 52 70
Technology & Innovation 56 66 59 51 64
Travel & Logistics 50 61 50 40 63
Retail 45 61 47 38 64


Perception on AI usage

  • 78% of Hong Kong Businesses believe AI is beneficial and can bring improvements
  • Top achievement objectives:
    • Improve quality (83%)
    • Efficiency and optimization (82%)
    • Customer benefits (79%)
  • Top barriers of adopting AI:
    • Financial concerns (56%)
    • Knowledge gap (51%)
    • Talent gap (50%)


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