Artificial intelligence is poised to be the next big thing in tech as companies plan to double their spending in the coming year. According to a recent survey by Gartner’s, 59% of the companies surveyed say they already have AI programs in place, an average of four each. In the coming year, these same organizations said they plan to put six more artificial intelligence and machine learning programs in place, and fifteen in the next 3 years. The average corporation will thus have 35 AI programs in place by 2022.
There is expected to be a major impact on jobs as well. “The rising number of AI projects means that organizations may need to reorganize internally to make sure that AI projects are properly staffed and funded,” said Jim Hare, a research vice president at Gartner.
40% of the companies surveyed reported that customer experience was a major motivation for the new investments. While chatbots and other externally facing mechanisms were a huge source of value, more than half of the companies investing in AI report using it to support decision making and to automate such tasks as invoicing and HR screening. “It is less about replacing human workers and more about augmenting and enabling them to make better decisions faster,” Hare said.
The major impediments to adoption of AI and machine learning were concerns over lack of employee skills and comprehension, as well as concerns over the quality of data. There are major concerns that employees won’t understand or fully embrace the new technology, and also that there simply aren’t enough AI engineers to fill the growing demand.
Some of the specific concerns were found to be:
Although the majority of AI spending is being concentrated in the tech sector, especially among giants like Microsoft and Google, as much as 30% of AI investment can be found in businesses outside the tech sector. The technology is more likely to be adopted by large, profitable, companies in capital-intensive sectors, especially finance, automotive, and health care.
Despite AI spending being concentrated in the tech sector, 80% of companies have invested in it in some form or another. The East Asia-Pacific region has invested most prolifically in the new technology, with America and Europe close behind. The different regions seem to have different capabilities when it comes to employing the new tech. The Asia / Pacific region is the most efficient driver of revenue, while North America is most effective at using it to drive sales. Europe has done the best job of using AI to streamline logistics and operations.
AI is here, the next step in the development of IT. Although computer technology has been transforming the economy since the 1960s, it is only in the past decade or two that we have been able to talk to our machines with human voices and hear what sound like human voices in return. While Siri and Alexa are the tips of a very deep iceberg, one can do little more than assume that big changes are afoot.
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