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October 9, 2020

New Report Highlights AI’s Role in Businesses’ Pandemic Resilience

Oliver Peckham

During the pandemic, businesses have scrambled to avoid large layoffs and cutbacks by seizing any opportunity to shore up lost revenue from the world’s quieted economies. Now, analytics firm RELX has released its third annual Emerging Tech Executive Report, which applied three years of data to examine AI’s impact on businesses’ successes (or failures) during the pandemic, as well as general trends in enterprise use of AI technologies.

The report’s conclusions are drawn from AI-focused interviews with more than a thousand senior executives in the U.S. across eight industries: government, healthcare, legal services, insurance, science and medical fields, banking, and agriculture. 

In general, the report finds strong growth in use of AI technologies: 81% of executives reported use of AI tech in their businesses, up 33% since 2018; 75% reported that their businesses offered AI training, up 29% since 2018; and 95% reported believing that U.S. companies should invest in the AI workforce through educational initiatives (up 3% since 2018).

“A trend we’ve seen over the last three years is that AI implementation consistently outpaces training,” said Vijay Raghavan, executive director of the Chief Technology Officer Forum at RELX. “Companies that do not dedicate the necessary resources to training existing employees on new AI technologies risk leaving growth opportunities on the table and using biased or otherwise flawed systems to make and enforce major decisions.”

Image courtesy of RELX.

Where RELX really drilled down, though, was in the intersection of enterprise AI with the COVID-19 pandemic. 68% of respondents reported increasing investment in AI technologies in light of the pandemic’s effects on business; 48% reported investing in new AI technologies, a higher percent than those who reported investing in established technologies (46%). 

This reasoning behind this increased investment is made clear elsewhere in the survey. Of those interviewed, 77% said they believed AI technologies played a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and 63% said that AI helped their businesses remain resilient to COVID-19 (with just 15% reporting that AI had a negative impact on their resilience). The pandemic also changed minds about international cooperation: 79% of executives reported believing that AI technologies and resources should be shared among countries in the wake of the pandemic.

“Businesses’ response to COVID-19 has confirmed the view of US business leaders that artificial intelligence has the power to create smarter, more agile and profitable businesses,” Raghavan said. “Businesses face more complex challenges every day and AI technologies have become a mission-critical resource in adapting to, if not overcoming, these types of unforeseen obstacles and staying resilient.”

To read more about the 2020 Emerging Tech Executive Report, click here.

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