Artificial Intelligence is real and it is here. But successfully putting AI into action isn't exactly a walk in the park -- it requires a fundamental rethinking of the business. The pressure is on -- 53 percent of executives responding to a recent survey said their industry has "already experienced disruption" due to AI. An example that applies to potential AI-driven disruption in the retail sector is Amazon's Go
store in Seattle, which employs AI to operate with no checkout clerks or lines -- purchases are tracked as shoppers remove items from the shelves.
Along with signaling disruption, a recent survey
of 1,000 business and IT leaders commissioned by Infosys which finds AI -- as we know it today -- has moved beyond the experimentation stage, and is delivering real benefits. The vast majority of the executives surveyed, 86 percent, say their organizations surveyed have "middle" or "late-stage" AI deployments, and view AI as a major facilitator of future business operations. In addition, 73 percent agreed or strongly agreed that their AI deployments have already transformed the way they do business, and 90 percent of C-level executives reported measurable benefits from AI within their organizations.
Believe it or not, AI is more than just automation. While a majority of organizations in the survey, 66 percent, start off using AI to automate routine or inefficient processes, it becomes a factor in innovation and differentiation as time goes on and experience is gained. For example, 80 percent of IT decision makers at organizations in later stages of AI deployment reported that they are using AI to augment existing solutions, or build new business-critical solutions and services to optimize insights and the consumer experience. The same percentage of C-level executives said their future business strategy "will be informed through opportunities made available with AI technology." Another 42 percent also expect significant impact in research and development in the next five years.
As Mohit Joshi, president of Infosys, puts it in the forward to the report: "So far, the arc of AI leans toward empowerment and giving humans the tools necessary to automate redundant tasks, detect and analyze hidden patterns in data and generally make possible revolutionary insights that will make our lives better."
As mentioned above, AI is already becoming a disruptive force. Two-thirds of executives in the telecom sector say AI is disrupting their industry, along with 63 percent of banking and insurance executives. A majority of retailers, 54%, also are feeling the impact. (Amazon Go, mentioned above, is just one example.) The only industry not feeling the heat from AI is public sector or governmental organizations.
If AI is a disruptive force, it will act as any disruptive force will, and threaten the very existence of companies that don't keep up with more nimble competitors. By extension, yes, it is a job-killer. However, at the same time, it opens up new opportunities for forward-looking companies and startups -- and all the employees they hire -- to adopt new ways of thinking, new ways to better meet the needs of customers -- rapidly and assuredly.
Incredibly enough, a majority of enterprises appear to be taking actions to assure their employees' job futures as AI takes hold across basic decision-making functions. No less than 53 percent of respondents report their organizations have increased training in the job functions most affected by AI deployments. Even more are sympathetic and optimistic that AI will enrich, not replace, jobs. Seventy-seven percent were confident that employees in their organizations could be trained for the new job roles AI technologies will create.
Ironically, it is the implementors of AI, the IT departments, who are seeing AI impinging the most upon their jobs. IT (61 percent) will continue to be the most affected job function over the next five years, as indicated by 61 percent. However, AI is beginning to have a growing impact on marketing and communications (32 percent), human resources (29 percent) and legal departments (15 percent) as well. AI leaders will become fixtures in the C-suite and throughout the organization as an overwhelming majority (95 percent) of IT decision makers from organizations in the late stages of digital transformation said that their organization plans to have a dedicated team of AI professionals.
Business leaders are optimistic that AI technologies will ultimately create more opportunity for employees than they will eliminate, with C-level executives widely agreeing that AI technologies will have a positive effect on their workforce (70%) and equally benefit customers (45 percent) and employees (43 percent).
Sixty-nine percent of C-level executives reported that employees within their organization are concerned AI technologies will replace them. However, 48 percent believe AI has augmented human skills to make their people better at their work, and 45 percent said AI is freeing up employees' time for higher value work.
A majority of business leaders, 80 percent, were confident that their executive teams have the ability to adapt their leadership skills as AI technologies are adopted. Executive training is still called for, with three-fourths of IT decision makers felt that their executives would benefit from formal training on the implications of AI technologies.
Alain Dehaze, CEO of The Adecco Group, a global staffing company, prefers to call AI "augmented intelligence," noting that once blended with human input, will bring about "a deeper focus on innately human skills â?? critical thinking, emotional intelligence and value judgments. In the platform economy, technology is connecting people of all backgrounds and abilities with more opportunities. It is also accelerating the employment of both skilled and unskilled workers in the era of digital transformation, making the world work for everyone."
What stands in the way of this glorious future of AI-driven organizations? Data, or not the right kind of data. Nearly half of IT decision makers (49 percent) reported that their organization is unable to deploy the AI technologies they want because their data is not ready to support the requirements of AI technologies. The opaqueness of AI's internal processes also bothers executives, and a majority of executives, 52 percent, worry about losing transparency into their business.