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AI increasingly used as strategic differentiator - Gartner study
Wed, 24th Aug 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A recent survey by Gartner found that 80% of executives think automation can be applied to any business decision. As automation becomes embedded in digital business, the survey revealed how organisations are evolving their use of artificial intelligence (AI) as part of their automation strategies.

Erick Brethenoux, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, says, “The survey has shown that enterprises are shifting away from a purely tactical approach to AI and beginning to apply AI more strategically. For example, a third of organisations are applying AI across several business units, creating a stronger competitive differentiator by supporting decisions across business processes.

The survey was conducted online from October through December 2021 among 699 respondents at organisations who have deployed AI or intend to deploy AI within three years.

It revealed that on average, 54% of AI projects make it from pilot to production. This is a slight increase from the Gartner 2019 AI in Organisations Survey, which reported an average of 53% of AI projects that make it to production.

Frances Karamouzis, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, says, “Scaling AI continues to be a significant challenge. Organisations still struggle to connect the algorithms they are building to a business value proposition, which makes it difficult for IT and business leadership to justify the investment it requires to operationalise models.

Overall, 40% of organisations surveyed indicated that they have thousands of AI models deployed. This creates governance complexity for the organisation, further challenging data and analytics leaders' ability to demonstrate return on investment from each model, Gartner states.

While talent shortages are often assumed to impact AI initiatives, the survey found it is not a significant barrier to AI adoption. 72% of executives reported that they have or can source the AI talent they need.

“The most successful organisations use a combination of in-house development and external hiring for AI talent. This ensures that the team renews itself continuously by learning new AI skills and techniques and considering new ideas from outside the organisation,” says Brethenoux.

Security and privacy concerns were not ranked as a top barrier to AI adoption, cited by just 3% of executives surveyed. Yet, 41% of organisations reported they have previously had a known AI privacy breach or security incident, Gartner finds.

When asked which parties the organisation was most worried about when it comes to AI security, 50% of respondents cited concerns about competitors, partners or other third parties, and 49% were concerned about malicious hackers. However, among organisations who have faced an AI security or privacy incident, 60% reported data compromise by an internal party.

Brethenoux concludes, “Organisations' AI security concerns are often misplaced, given that most AI breaches are caused by insiders. While attack detection and prevention are important, AI security efforts should equally focus on minimising human risk.