The greatest barrier to adoption remains limited AI skills, expertise or knowledge, says new IBM report
The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on businesses is at a turning point. Growing steadily, now, it’s at 35 per cent, a four-point increase from 2021, according to a newly-released IBM report. Adoption is being driven by advances that make it more accessible for businesses (43 per cent) and the need to reduce costs and automate key processes (42 per cent)
In some industries and countries, the use of AI is practically ubiquitous, providing new benefits and efficiencies to organisations through automation capabilities, greater ease of use and accessibility, and a wider variety of well-established use cases.
AI is applied through off-the-shelf solutions like virtual assistants and embedded in existing business operations like IT processes. Bolstering evidence about the importance of accessibility, 44 per cent of organisations are working to embed AI into current applications and processes.
Meanwhile, over 40 per cent of IT professionals who said their companies are exploring or deploying AI reported their companies plan to invest in research and development (44 per cent ) and embed AI into current applications and processes (44 cent).
As part of their adoption, just under two-thirds (66 per cent) of IT professionals reported their organisations use automation tools to reduce manual or repetitive tasks, while half of the respondents said their organisations use AI-powered education solutions to increase employee learning and training.
AI is trustworthy and responsible
While progress has been made, there’s still work to be done by enterprises to ensure that consumers welcome the benefits of AI by instilling trust and guaranteeing AI is acting responsibly. A majority of organisations that have adopted AI haven’t taken key steps to ensure their AI is trustworthy and responsible, such as reducing unintended bias. IT professionals more frequently said their organisations are ensuring trustworthy and responsible AI by safeguarding data privacy through the whole lifecycle (48 per cent), monitoring AI across cloud and AI environments (45 per cent) and guarding against threats and incursions (41 per cent).
Around 60 per cent of IT professionals reported that a lack of skills/training to develop and manage trustworthy AI, and AI governance and management tools that do not work across all data environments (60 per cent) are barriers to developing AI that is explainable and trustworthy.
At the same time, companies are also applying AI to more far-reaching challenges with greater social and environmental impact, for example by addressing skills or labour shortages or helping to advance environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related initiatives and reducing their environmental impact. Two-thirds of companies are already or are planning to apply AI to their sustainability-related goals.
This year, global IT professionals said they are more likely to think it is important to their company that they can build and run their AI projects wherever the data resides than they were in 2021 (94 per cent vs 87 per cent), according to the IBM report.
Building and running AI projects on a variety of data storage solutions is more crucial to driving AI adoption than ever. In 2022, 94 per cent of IT professionals at organisations deploying or exploring AI said that it is important to their businesses that they can run their AI projects wherever their data resides, a jump of 7 per cent from last year (87 per cent). Further, 63 per cent said at least a quarter of their workforce needs access to company data to make decisions.
- AI adoption and strategy: Today, 35 per cent of companies reported using AI in their business, and an additional 42 per cent reported they are exploring AI. AI adoption is growing steadily, up four points from 2021.
- Augmenting the workforce: AI is helping companies address labour and skills shortage by automating repetitive tasks. 30 per cent of global IT professionals say employees at their organisation are already saving time with new AI and automation software and tools.
- Sustainability: Two-thirds (66 per cent) of companies are either currently executing or planning to apply AI to address their sustainability goals.
- Use cases: Around half of organisations are seeing benefits from using AI to automate IT, business or network processes, including cost savings and efficiencies (54 per cent), improvements in IT or network performance (53 per cent), and better experiences for customers (48 per cent).
At the same time, important challenges remain:
- Barriers to AI adoption: The top five things that are hindering successful AI adoption for businesses are limited AI skills, expertise or knowledge (34 per cent), the price is too high (29 per cent), lack of tools or platforms to develop models (25 per cent), projects are too complex or difficult to integrate and scale (24 per cent), and too much data complexity (24 per cent).
- Trustworthy AI: A majority of organisations haven’t taken key steps to ensure their AI is trustworthy and responsible, such as reducing bias (74 per cent), tracking performance variations and model drift (68 per cent), and making sure they can explain AI-powered decisions (61 per cent).
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