We already know that our jobs are threatened by AI and robots. We know that AI is already pervasive and we’ve heard influential tech leaders like Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, predict that robots are likely to replace 50% of all jobs in the next decade.
News reports of areas where AI is exceeding human abilities abound. AI has even exceeded human expertise in complex real-world tasks like interpreting x-ray images and assessing the cancer risk of dermatological lesions.
Yet, while there is no denying that a takeover by our artificial intelligence companions is on the cards, a newly published report by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group shows there is an enormous gap between these expectations and what businesses are actually doing at present.
In fact, the situation on the ground is that company leaders are aware of the potential of AI for competitive advantage but few are actually employing AI.
Research is based on a global survey that polled more than 3,000 executives, managers, and analysts across industries as well as in-depth interviews with more than 30 technology experts and executives has found that “only about one in five companies has incorporated AI in some offerings or processes. Only one in 20 companies has extensively incorporated AI in offerings or processes. Less than 39% of all companies have an AI strategy in place.”
Even 50% of large companies with at least 100,000 employees, which one would expect to have an AI strategy, don’t half have one.
Now here’s the thing.
It’s not as if corporate leaders are doubting AI. A full 75% of them believe AI will enable their companies to move into new businesses and almost 85% believe AI will allow their companies to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage.
In this respect the researchers differentiate between leading companies that understand and have adopted AI and what the writers call laggards. The former has a better grip on what AI can do and how algorithms work.
AI algorithms are not innately “intelligent.” They learn inductively by analyzing data. This is a crucial point. Many companies have not understood how their big data sets can be fodder to train algorithms. The problem is compounded by a lack of analytics expertise and easy access to company data.
What’s the bottom line?
Disruption from AI may be still a way off. Many company leaders aren’t sure what to expect from AI or how it fits into their business model. Company leaders indicated that the culture change required to implement AI will be daunting. At any rate, most of them said they don’t expect AI to take away jobs at their organizations within the next five years.