Setting aside the hype of AI and delivering real value for businesses is not easy. There are so many products and services touting to include ‘artificial intelligence’ as part of their offering, with almost ‘silver bullet’ potential, that there has to be an element of sympathy with IT leaders who are tasked with deciphering what is genuinely a good product, and what is merely a product that has just been rebranded and marketed as ‘AI’ but has the same fundamental capabilities it did five or even ten years ago.
They also have to do this in a situation where they are often being pressurised by an overly keen CEO, or more likely – they’re struggling to get board-level approval for AI. In fact, Corinium’s recent research of c-suite IT leaders in the US, found that the top barrier for AI adoption for respondents was getting board approval or buy-in (54%).
This may well be because of the perceived risk associated with taking on innovative technology – but perhaps the problem is deeper than this – it may even be the IT leader’s own fault. Why? Well, in most projects, when technology is involved, it is usually because there is a need for a solution, and it makes sense for a certain technology service or product to be implemented. According to our research, the smallest proportion (10%) said they would only investigate the use of AI in cases where the business is already seeking a solution for a specific use case. That suggests that technology leaders are looking for AI products before thinking about the solution they need it for, or they have thought a product could benefit the organisation in a way which they perhaps hadn’t thought about before. That doesn’t mean that this method is flawed – many innovative ideas come through chance rather than exploration. However, it does mean it may be harder to get buy-in for these ideas because of the perceived risk associated with AI solutions of this kind.
Other issues that may be holding back businesses from implementing AI could be a lack of resources or having archaic technology that would be hard to integrate into new AI products.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for AI is actually how much is not known about it. For example, reading industry papers may make us think that data science is the most in-demand skill, but our C-level respondents actually picked out data analytics as the biggest requirement to exploit AI, while they also didn’t realise how much the HR department could benefit from AI, as it was the bottom ranked function, despite there already being capabilities like candidate screening in this space.
This ‘unknown’ part of AI is also impacting buy-in, and not just from CEOs and boards, but from employees. Employees may be scared of taking up AI, but that is almost entirely due to scaremongering – and perhaps even from what their own definition of AI is. Often, people think of AI as robots taking over the world, because of fiction books, TV and films, but the reality is that AI just enhances or automates mundane tasks, meaning employees can benefit in other ways.
The positive sign is though, that despite these holdbacks, IT leaders clearly believe there’s a future for AI in business. We’re still at the early stages of the technology really coming to the fore.
To find out exactly what IT leaders including CIOs, CTOs and CDOs make of AI, download our full report here: http://bit.ly/2vbQGio
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