I’ve been attending a number of industry events recently that squarely position machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence on the forefront of change. Last year, McNee Associates conducted original research with 265 senior business and IT executives in the US, Europe and Asia, to get their sense of the shifts that are occurring.
As the graphic highlights, the use of AI and ML is projected to grow rapidly and broadly over the next couple of years. Our research indicates that 52 percent of executives believe that that their firms will be “gaining scale” or “fully scaled” in their use of AI and ML by 2021, up from only 13 percent last year. Having conducted similar research on next-gen technologies over the years, the slope of change here is significant.
Across the entire spectrum of cloud infrastructure and apps — from vendors such as SAP, Service Now, AWS, Workday, IBM and others — what is clear is that ML and AI are no longer futuristic technologies, but in the here and now. The range and ways that AI and ML are being imbedded into solutions is vast, and often times largely invisible to the ultimate end-user.
Additional insights from the research:
- 60 percent of execs believe that AI and ML will fundamentally change their industries.
- Almost 34 percent of execs believe that AI and ML will result in significant job losses. Interestingly, US-based IT and business leaders are more optimistic than their colleagues in Europe and Asia (20 vs. 46 percent). This may suggest that they believe these technologies will play more of a supportive role, augmenting existing skills, or that significant retraining can occur for those displaced vs. wholesale layoffs.
- RPA led our list of AI technologies in use, followed by Chat Bots, Expert (knowledge-based) Systems, Machine Learning, and Virtual Assistants, among others.
- Predictive Analytics led the list of top technologies / trends / capabilities that will have the biggest business impact through 2021, followed by Cyber Security and Digitization of Products and Services.
- As expected (based on previous research conducted in this space), Company Culture and Organizational Willingness to Change topped the list of obstacles / challenges IT organization’s face to successfully navigate the emerging technology-enabled business landscape.