The recent years have witnessed unprecedented interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and associated technologies. After lumbering in the background while promising to transform computing and businesses, AI is finally coming to the fore. And, AI benefits are ensuring AI is making its presence felt loud and clear across the industries.
And how exactly using AI benefits industries? Autonomous car manufacturers heavily rely on it to guide its vehicles, retail sectors use robots in their warehouses, banks are starting to experiment with intelligent robots for customer service, consulting firms employ it to build and use complex financial models, hospitals are increasingly looking at intelligent solutions to provide top-notch and personalized health care to patients, and so on. AI-powered solutions are poised to be truly disruptive and greatly benefit early adopters who might emerge into tomorrow’s conglomerates.
Amidst all the buzz and much confusion regarding where AI adoption stands today when it comes to industry adoption, McKinsey Global Institute recently came out with a paper that includes results from a study conducted to discover the trends in the still-nascent field. In the study of 3073 AI-aware companies across the world, here are the top trends that emerged in companies trying to achieve AI benefits.
Not Everyone is Jumping on the Bandwagon, Yet
Even with much hype and expectations, many businesses are still in the early stages of adopting AI. Business leaders are still trying to get answers to these questions: if and how AI can benefit them, how much to invest to build such capabilities, develop these capabilities in-house or go for partnerships, and so on. Companies made about $26-$39 billion worth of related investments in 2016. However, this is still a small figure, with only about one in five companies using AI for a core area.
The data might indicate a tepid interest in AI technologies, but nothing could be farther from the truth. While the early adopters are already experimenting, there is still time to catch up for others. They must, however, at least, start now. Ignoring and waiting any longer might jeopardize their chances to a serious competitor in the future.
AI Can Improve Revenues and Profits
30% of early adopters responded in affirmative when answering if AI has positively impacted their top and bottom line. They also said it has helped them achieve greater market share and expand their product and service portfolio. Early adopters are also far more confident in achieving expected growth and market share.
You Can’t Leapfrog to AI Without Building Good Digital Capabilities First
Successful early adopters have already built good digital capabilities such as those in big data and cloud infrastructure. Therefore, it’s important to have the required groundwork ready before making AI-related investments.
Collaboration and Partnerships are the Best Bet
Majority of early adopters have partnered with or bought firms that have specialized domain-specific capabilities. With AI skills in short supply, building everything from the ground-up is not a popular choice. Even tech giants such as Google have ventured outside for help when it comes to acquiring specific capabilities.
Make AI Initiatives as a Combined Effort of Business and Technology Teams
As it goes with the adoption of any new technology, building right AI capabilities is not solely the responsibility of the technology teams. The technology has to work for the business, and therefore combined representation is an absolute must. Only then can the companies have something ready to benefit the business.
Strong Backing from Leadership
Adopters who are progressing well have solid support from the top-level executives committed to such efforts. Companies who have not yet started adopting AI roughly have only half as much support from top leadership for AI efforts.
Take Affirmative and Strategic Small Steps
There’s a plethora of AI technologies and solutions out there. To realize AI benefits, companies must be willing to be patiently observer, analyze, and apply these to see what works best for them. While proven technology solutions can be immediately leveraged and used, the solutions that are still emerging need patience. The companies must however not be tentative in their approach. It should be well strategized and planned, methodical, and have a clear roadmap.
The biggest challenges are the people and processes. Business leaders must create an environment conducive to continuous improvement and learning. The processes need to quickly evolve and so must the people driving the processes at different stages. It’s important that businesses realize AI benefits result only with a long-term strategy and there are no short cuts.
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