New research by Gartner, Inc. released today has found that 80 per cent of executives think automation can be applied to any business decision. And as automation becomes embedded in digital business, the findings revealed just how much organizations of varied sizes are evolving their use of artificial intelligence (AI) as part of their automation strategies.
“The survey has shown that enterprises are shifting away from a purely tactical approach to AI and beginning to apply AI more strategically,” said Gartner analyst Erick Brethenoux. “For example, a third of organizations are applying AI across several business units, creating a stronger competitive differentiator by supporting decisions across business processes.”
The survey revealed that on average, 54 per cent of AI projects make it from pilot to production. This is virtually identical to the Gartner 2019 AI in Organizations Survey, which reported an average of 53 per cent of AI projects make it to production.
“Scaling AI continues to be a significant challenge,” said Gartner analyst Frances Karamouzis. “Organizations 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 operationalize models.”
Upwards of 40 per cent of organizations surveyed indicated that they have thousands of AI models deployed. This creates governance complexity for the organization, further challenging data and analytics leaders’ ability to demonstrate return on investment from each model.
While talent shortages are often assumed to impact AI initiatives, the survey found it is not a significant barrier to AI adoption, as 72 per cent of executives reported that they have or can source the AI talent they need.
“The most successful organizations use a combination of in-house development and external hiring for AI talent,” said Brethenoux, who is responsible for managing Gartner’s research agenda for AI. “This ensures that the team renews itself continuously by learning new AI skills and techniques and considering new ideas from outside the organization.”
Interestingly, security and privacy concerns were not ranked as a top barrier to AI adoption, cited by just three per cent of executives surveyed. Yet, 41 per cent of organizations reported they have previously had a known AI privacy breach or security incident.
When asked which parties the organization was most worried about when it comes to AI security, 50 per cent of respondents cited concerns about competitors, partners, or other third parties, and 49 per cent were concerned about malicious hackers.
However, among organizations who have faced an AI security or privacy incident, 60 per cent reported data compromise by an internal party.
“Organizations’ AI security concerns are often misplaced, given that most AI breaches are caused by insiders,” said Brethenoux. “While attack detection and prevention are important, AI security efforts should equally focus on minimizing human risk.”
The survey was conducted online from October through December 2021 among 699 respondents in the U.S., Germany and the U.K., at organizations that have either deployed AI or intend to deploy it within three years.
Gartner analysts are currently discussing the keys to successful AI implementations and barriers to AI operationalization during this week’s Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla. through Wednesday.