AI Is Ready For Business, Are You Ready For It? Business Landscape
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making rapid strides in recent years and has become part of our daily lives. With 2016 becoming the year of the autonomous vehicle, all eyes have turned to AI. It takes little imagination to see what will happen when a business like Uber begins to deploy autonomous vehicles - the cost of being driven around will plummet and as Dr. Peter Diamandis, author of Abundance - The Future Is Better Than You Think, observes, “The poorest people on Earth will be chauffeured around.”
Equally dramatic changes are being forecasted in areas of manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, financial services, etc. Early adopters of AI are already using AI to automate repetitive knowledge or cognitive tasks, improve decision-making, enhance customer service, reduce risk, enhance security, ensure rigorous regulatory compliance and provide superior customer experience through AI enabled products and services. In a recent global study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) sponsored by Wipro called Artificial intelligence in the real world: The business case takes shape, 75% of the respondents said that AI will be “actively implemented” in their companies within the next three years. But for 3% of those surveyed, AI was already a reality in their organizations with pilots and experiments underway or actual operational implementations (across industries included in the survey - manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and retail). The pace will remain the quickest in North America with active implementation in 84% of firms there and, in industry terms, in 84% of retail. Not surprisingly, another report by IDC states that technology spends will drive industry-wide revenue for AI from the nearly US$8.0 billion in 2016 to more than US$47 billion in 2020.
What this means is that businesses will find it hard to ignore AI for long. The EIU study mentioned above shows that AI is a source of anxiety and spells bad news for slow movers (see Figure 1: AI is bad news for slow movers).
Figure 1: AI is bad news for slow movers. Source: Artificial intelligence in the real world: The business case takes shape - The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Wipro Limited
The reason for the anxiety - aside from a lack of understanding of how AI can create business interventions - is the fact that adoption of AI presents a number of implementation challenges. Cost is a prominent factor; skills to assess design and implement AI technologies is another; issues of quality of data needed to build and run AI applications may take some time for a few organizations to resolve; and finally, some organizations could see cultural resistance to AI.
The good news is that expertise on AI is becoming widely available due to widespread interest on the topic in industry and academia. General awareness about the technology and its applicability (use cases) is on the rise. There are tools and platforms being built that will allow non-AI expert developers develop AI applications with ease. By all indications, AI will not remain a bleeding edge technology for long. It is moving rapidly into the realm of everyday business.