Artificial Intelligence (AI) is “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” Within 6 months, it’s possible that this definition, from the Oxford Dictionary could be outdated because of the rapid evolution of AI.
Earlier this year, a team of researchers from MIT surveyed over 3,000 business executives, analysts and managers from across the globe, gathering data from 112 countries and 21 different industries. The focus of their survey was insight into the challenges and opportunities that arise from AI. They published a thorough report packed with a ton of information. When you get a chance, it’s worth the time to read it. Here are a few of our favorite highlights.
- Automating tasks does not equate to automating jobs. Sometimes we picture a future filled with working robots that have replaced a part of the work force, but the actual implementation of AI has not been down that road. Instead, the more common use cases show that data has been automated, both the collection and organization of it, giving the same number of engineers employed the ability to spend time improving the business through ready access to that data, instead of billing hours searching for data. “In other words,” the MIT study reported, “extrapolation from the automation of repetitive tasks to the automation of jobs in a high tech industry is risky business.” Don’t expect the robots to take over. Expect the “robots” to give us the ability to do more with our jobs.
- You are not behind in AI adoption. Sure, there are many use cases now of companies that have unlocked potential by using AI for everything from customer relations to process improvement. However, those are still the outliers and not the norm. MIT found that 63% of their respondents expect to see AI effects within five years and only 14% believe it’s having a large effect right now. Yes, five years will be here quickly so you could fall behind, but if you formulate your game plan now, it’s not too late.
- Jumping into the AI adoption arena comes with both risks and opportunities. Often, the benefits of AI are hyped up without reporting the risks. It’s important to come into the arena with realistic expectations. On the opportunity side, MIT survey respondents looked forward to bringing in new business, reducing costs, snagging a competitive advantage, or moving into new business. How do you feel AI can create opportunities for your business? In contrast, on the risk side, MIT survey respondents were wary of advantages for competitors, new competitors joining their specific industry (think: digital disruptors), and a change in expectations from suppliers and customers based on AI adoption. What risks are on your radar for your organization?
- New careers will be created that we don’t have yet. Yes, AI will disrupt the future of jobs. No, it won’t be the disruption we might be expecting. The careers that will have the best future outlook will be those that demand employees who embrace lifelong learning because the technology landscape will continue to change, and that change will speed up. Plus, we will have new technologies to create new learning environments such as augmented reality and other tech yet to be dreamed of. Have you signed up for your next massive open online course (MOOC)?
- There is so much to understand! The majority of MIT’s survey respondents agreed that AI is a strategic opportunity for their business, but those that have implemented it are still a minority. Even within the same industry, there is a wide array of implementation. One organization may have created an entire team of data scientists while another org, in the same industry, is dipping their toes in the water with chatbots. MIT defined “four distinct organization maturity clusters” in regards to their AI understanding and adoption. Which would you fall into? Pioneers both understand and have adopted AI. Investigators understand it, but they prefer looking before leaping into adoption. Experimenters have leaped and prefer to learn or understand by doing. Passives don’t feel like they understand, nor have they done any adoption.
One of the big things we saw, by reading the results of this survey, was that adoption and understanding are still a bit of a hurdle for businesses of all sizes. Whether your specific hurdle falls under adoption or understanding, whether it’s related to technological limitation or business impediments, partnering with an excellent tech firm can help your business jump in. Are you ready to get into the AI arena? We would love to be your ringside coach!