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October 16, 2017

AI Adopters Confront Barriers to ROI

George Leopold

Heavy investors in artificial intelligence are rethinking their strategies, according to a new vendor survey, in an attempt to find ways to make the technology central to their operations.

The survey released last week by data analytics specialist Teradata Corp. found that 80 percent of the 260 enterprises it polled are investing in some form of AI. As major players jockey for position and form AI partnerships, the survey also found that early adopters believe they will have to invest heavily in AI development over the next three years to keep pace with competitors.

Along with creating new positions like chief AI officer, companies will have to find ways to integrate AI technologies. To “leverage the full potential of this technology and gain maximum [return on investment], these businesses will need to revamp their core strategies so AI has an embedded role from the datacenter to the boardroom,” noted Atif Kureishy, vice president of emerging practices at Think Big Analytics, which is owned by a Teradata (NYSE: TDC).

While a large majority of respondents said they have AI projects in production, about half that total—42 percent—acknowledge there are implementation gaps across their organization. Thirty percent said greater investment is required to expand implementation.

Among the gaps is lack of IT infrastructure suited to AI applications and the increasingly familiar problem of finding AI expertise, which was cited by 34 percent of respondents to the Teradata survey. Only 28 percent said they have enough trained personnel to develop and deploy AI platforms across their organizations.

Among the expected investments is creating an executive-level position to coordinate AI deployments from the datacenter to the executive suite. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) said they are looking to hire a chief AI officer. Those first-movers expect to see a hefty return on their investment over the next five years in areas ranging from product development and R&D (50 percent), customer service (46 percent) followed by supply chain and operations (42 percent), the survey found.

“Despite the potential barriers to entry, businesses think AI is here to stay and expect both short- and long-term gains from investments in the technology,” the survey authors concluded.

AI technology is expected to have the broadest impact on the IT and telecom sectors, followed by professional, customers and financial services, in that order.

Industry experts note that businesses relying heavily on data collection and processing are ripe for AI innovations such as machine learning tools that can be trained to handle data preparation, thereby freeing analysts to extract insights.

Industry analysts also stress that the combination of AI and big data technologies are poised to revolutionize enterprise analytics functions such as customer service and marketing.

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