The Path to AI Adoption is Slow and Steady: PwC Report
Sun, April 11, 2021

The Path to AI Adoption is Slow and Steady: PwC Report

Artificial intelligence not only gives us innovative ideas and technologies but also provides real, tangible value across all industries. Reports have emphasized that the wide application of AI technology will bring great returns to businesses, prompting more sectors to invest in the technology / Photo by: Ekkasit Keatsirikul via 123RF

 

Artificial intelligence not only gives us innovative ideas and technologies but also provides real, tangible value across all industries. Reports have emphasized that the wide application of AI technology will bring great returns to businesses, prompting more sectors to invest in the technology. Research firm Gartner reported that AI adoption in the enterprise industry has grown 270% over the past four years. AI applications such as image recognition, natural language processing, cognitive computing, automatic Big Data analysis, and machine learning (ML) are also widely used in companies.

"If you are a CIO and your organization doesn't use AI, chances are high that your competitors do and this should be a concern. We still remain far from general AI that can wholly take over complex tasks, but we have now entered the realm of AI-augmented work and decision science -- what we call 'augmented intelligence,” Chris Howard, research vice president at Gartner, said. 

A 2018 report by McKinsey and Company showed that AI adoption is rapidly taking hold across the global business. The results of the survey revealed that 47% of respondents stated that their companies have embedded at least one AI capability in their business processes – up from 20% in 2017. Another 30% of the companies said they are already piloting AI. Still, AI is not being fully maximized by businesses since many of their AI investments are a relatively small fraction of companies’ overall spending on digital technologies. About 58% of the respondents stated that less than one-tenth of their companies’ digital budgets goes toward AI.

The report also showed that robotic process automation, computer vision, and machine learning are most commonly deployed among all AI capabilities. At least 20% of respondents stated that their companies have already embedded each of these technologies into their business processes. At the same time, the results revealed that AI is already reaping meaningful rewards. About 41% of the respondents reported that AI has a significant value in business functions, 37% reported moderate value, and 1% said they have seen no or negative value from that use. 

Slow and Steady

The majority of reports show rapid AI progress in all industries. While there’s no doubt that AI has been revolutionizing these sectors, business leaders are now facing a “reality check,” affecting the implementation of AI. PwC’s 2020 AI Predictions report showed that the percentage of business executives who are planning to deploy AI “enterprise-wide” had significantly decreased to 4% from 20%. 

This 2020, fewer companies will pursue AI at scale. Companies will be focusing on investigating AI uses (42%) and pilots within discrete areas of the business. However, the US will still be focused on reaching $16 trillion in AI gains. According to TechHQ, an independent tech news website that covers enterprise and technology from around the world, we can expect organizations to market themselves less on their uses of AI as they are researching to develop products and services where AI is a true differentiator with real disruptive potential for their industries and markets. 

In PwC’s blueprint, the report provided priorities for businesses so they can achieve a more transformative payoff in the years ahead. For instance, PwC suggested that companies offer training programs surrounding new technologies, particularly in AI. This can be an effective strategy for attracting new talent and retaining existing staff. They should also make sure that the skills they have learned are put to practical use. 

Employees should also be knowledgeable enough in tech and non-tech skills so that colleagues can collaborate on AI-related challenges and better discern which problems AI is most suited to solve. At the same time, the report suggested that AI should be implemented in such a way that it will complement other technologies, solutions, and operations. Companies must remember that this is part of a move towards automation or as a component in a wider business strategy.

The majority of reports show rapid AI progress in all industries. While there’s no doubt that AI has been revolutionizing these sectors, business leaders are now facing a “reality check,” affecting the implementation of AI / Photo by: dolgachov via 123RF

 

AI Adoption Should Be Accelerated

While the PwC report showed that business executives are hesitant with AI, they still believe that AI adoption should be implemented. A recent survey cited by Forbes revealed that 751 executives stated that their companies are progressing with the new-age technology, the outcomes they are seeing, and the challenges they are facing. About 7 in 10 of them even believe that AI adoption should be accelerated. 

According to Tech Wire Asia, an independent tech news website that covers enterprise and technology in Asia, these companies want their organizations to be more aggressive in adopting AI capabilities. Business executives in five industries, namely retail, transportation, healthcare, financial services, and technology are finding great success with AI. The urge for companies to adopt AI is because of the positive results it provided. For instance, 85% of financial service executives believe AI is the solution in one of the most prominent issues in the industry: fraud. 

"While there is still work to be done, advances in data discovery and management, skills training and AI explainability are driving the rate of AI adoption faster than many predicted,” Rob Thomas, general manager at IBM Data and AI, said.

Barriers to AI Adoption

Industries have been facing challenges as AI adoption increases due to the barriers they’ve been experiencing. For instance, companies are hesitant with AI because they know that it will change the skills needed to accomplish AI jobs. About 56% of respondents in Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda survey said that acquiring new skills will be required to do both existing and newly created jobs. Aside from that, 42% of them aren’t fully understanding AI benefits and use in the workplace. 

According to Gartner, companies should also consider tangible and intangible benefits as well as determine how to meaningfully quantify them. It projected that 50% of AI investments will be quantified and linked to specific key performance indicators to measure return on investment by 2024. Also, they should gather huge data because this will determine if their AI initiatives will be successful. Without sufficient data, AI falters. 

“Successful AI initiatives depend on a large volume of data from which organizations can draw information about the best response to a situation,” the report added. 

AI adoption is widely perceived as necessary by companies, but it is up to them to decide how they will leverage the technology to their benefit.