MIT publishes report that explores myths and reality of AI in business
When you’ve got your head down, working day-to-day to keep IT operations running smoothly, artificial intelligence (AI) can feel like a pie-in-the-sky fad. Many of its benefits (automation, insight, cost reduction, etc.) sound great. But, when it comes to thinking about integrating AI into your business, the daydreaming stops—for good reason. While AI technology has grown leaps and bounds in the last five years, the tools that would make it easy to apply are not yet ubiquitous. Also, self-driving cars and other AI tech feats might be relevant to the tech sector, but can seem out-of-reach and impractical for other industries.
At the end of 2018, MIT and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published a report that refuted widely-held ideas about AI in business. After surveying 300 companies globally and 300 additional Chinese respondents, and interviewing 35 executives, the report found that there were huge gaps between businesses’ ideas about AI adoption and reality. Why should your business care about this? Because, among many things, the report found that AI will affect every industry. In fact, its impact is already being felt. So, take a moment to understand the myths and realities of AI in business.
Myth #1 - AI will mainly benefit tech-industry players.
Most businesses think that AI will only benefit a few industries in the future. In actuality, the report showed that AI is already providing value to businesses. In addition, those businesses are across industries. While there will be cutting-edge breakthroughs in AI within the tech sector, AI’s practical applications to business will be and already are much more widespread.
Myth #2 - Businesses can scale AI by increasing the number of pilots they have invested in.
It turns out that scaling AI within a business is more complicated than you’d think. While pilots are an important first step to understanding how AI can provide immediate benefits to organizations, a wider strategy for scaling is important in order to create success. In fact, pioneer companies (companies who lead the pack in terms of AI adoption) all share a common trait: they have a strategy to take AI to scale.
Furthermore, AI transformations require an iterative approach that connects strategy with changes to the business operating model.
As the CTO of AI at Microsoft said, “AI taken to scale means the enterprise has an AI-oriented architecture capable of constantly running AI experiments reliably.”
Myth #3 - The most important benefit of AI for businesses is saving money through automation.
This idea has been prevalent since the early days of AI and the robot tech fantasies preceding that. “AI will reduce labor costs. AI will help us work less. AI will cut inefficiencies.” These things might end up being true to some extent. But, the MIT report found something interesting. It found that AI pioneers expect the largest benefit to be revenue increases.
Myth #4 - Widely-ubiquitous AI tools will level the playing field.
This might be the most striking finding of the report. Many companies have been waiting for AI to mature. With maturity, comes tools that are easier to use and less costly. But, the report found that this isn’t the reality. In fact, AI pioneers are increasing their investment in AI, widening the gap between early adopters and companies who are late to the pack. This has striking implications for businesses who aren’t putting AI and data at the top of their priorities now.
Myth #5 - US firms will win the battle for world dominance of AI because of our superior data abilities.
The MIT report found that this was not the case. China AI pioneers are aheads of their peers when it comes to AI AND managing data.
Takeaway - Make data and data governance a top priority at your organization.
In order to apply AI to your business, you need clean, well-organized data. The MIT report found that the biggest difference between AI pioneers and other organizations was a focus on data. Pioneer companies value data so much that it permeates discussions all the way to the boardroom. In fact, a few pioneers had advice for organizations who are thinking about AI adoption.
“I wish we would have looked at data quality much earlier,” Tassilo Festetics, Global VP Solutions, Anaheuser-Busch In-Bev, said.
The tools for data governance and data sharing have evolved immensely in the past few years. To get caught up, check out data wizard Frank Bell’s insightful article on the evolution of data sharing and best tools to get your business on track with data.
Also, Fairway can help you make sense of your data. Our data experts can help you clean your data and organize it into warehouses or lakes. We can provide you with a customized plan of how to get from where you are to where you want to be at no cost. Set up an appointment here.
For more information on the MIT report, take a look at the full webinar.
Source: Thank you to MIT for their excellent webinar, articles, and charts.