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The Rise of AI and What it means for Business

It has been reported that worldwide spending by governments and business on artificial intelligence (AI) will reach $154 billion in 2023, an increase of nearly 27% over the amount spent in 2022. In this article, we explore this rise in AI investment, what has made AI so accessible to employees and businesses, the benefits of its use and the risks that might arise if businesses fail to properly prepare.

The rise of AI

Why should businesses care about AI?

In a 2019 MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group survey, 7 out of 10 companies reported minimal or no value from their AI investments. Fast-forward to 2022 and a very different picture emerges, highlighting the rapid nature of AI’s rise.

Another MIT Sloan report, this time published in February 2022, found that around 92% of large companies are achieving returns on their AI investments, and the same percentage are increasing their AI investments. Their analysis found that when companies increase their intensity of AI adoption to at least 25% — which means using a quarter of the AI tools currently available to them — they start to see a return on investment.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies using AI for sales can increase their leads by more than 50%, reduce call times by 60-70%, and make cost reductions of up to 60%. Whilst IBM reported that more than 85% of advanced adopters are reducing operating costs with AI.

From the rapid growth in AI users over the last year, we can expect businesses to come to the realisation over the next six months that this isn’t optional. Most business leaders will appreciate soon, if they haven’t already, that they need to be actively trying to understand the security implications of integrating AI into their business.

Skills in a digital economy

A study by Salesforce published in March 2023, The Digital Skills Survey, included the opinions of more than 11,000 workers across 11 countries including Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US, captured the feelings of today’s workforce when it comes to AI.

The survey found that people leaders believe that prioritising employees’ digital skills development will have positive impacts on wider business performance. They cited increased productivity (47%), better team performance (43%) and improved problem-solving capabilities (40%) as likely positive attributes.

When asked, 22% of global workers ranked AI among the top three most important digital skills today. This number rises to 27% when asked about AI’s importance over the next five years.

Skills in a digital economy

AI job anxiety

A report by Goldman Sachs in March 2023 estimates around 300 million jobs could be affected by generative AI, meaning 18% of work globally could be automated. It’s not surprising then that there are so many speculative reports of employees worrying AI is coming for their jobs.

Chris Knowles, Chief Digital Officer at RSM UK commented, “I have a favourite quote on AI – you’re unlikely to lose your job to AI, but you are likely to lose it to someone who knows how to use AI effectively.

Supporting this positive sentiment, the international Salesforce study found that 58% of the workers surveyed were more likely to be excited about the use of AI in their workplace than worried about it replacing them in their job (48%).

The BCG Henderson Institute and MIT Sloan Management Review survey also found that as many as 64% of employees felt that they personally benefit from using AI in their jobs. And only 8% complained that job satisfaction had fallen after using the technology.

The sectors where AI is making a big impact

Whilst all businesses can use AI to speed up and improve the accuracy of day-to-day tasks such as creating job descriptions, conducting competitor analysis, analysing data within Excel sheets, AI can be incredibly transformational for certain sectors.

In academia for example, AI can significantly cut down the time it takes researchers to prepare detailed papers and analyse data-points meaning the findings can be published much earlier, with a greater level of quality, and more can be produced in that time.” said Chris. According to the FT, AI can also be transformational in the healthcare space. It reported, “Applied to large data sets, AI has identified new drug solutions, enabled the selection of candidates for clinical trials and monitored patients with specific conditions. Roche, for example, uses deep-learning algorithms to gain insights into Parkinson’s disease.”

The sectors where AI is making a big impact

Chris added, “In the financial services space for example, AI is being applied to tax services where there is a substantial volume of transaction records that tax teams need to sift through in order to categorize them for tax compliance and tax reporting purposes. ..

Understanding the risks

A recent study by Forbes Advisor found that some businesses owners are concerned about technology dependence, with 43% of them saying that they are worried about becoming too reliant on AI.

Another challenge businesses must contend with is managing the security implications that come with rolling out AI. Yes, ChatGPT provides a solution that is tried and tested, but businesses must also consider the security of their information, how their data will be protected, as well as the privacy and ethical implications. For example, there is the risk that one customer’s data could be disclosed to the wrong customer if the right protocols aren’t in place.

By the end of 2024, it is expected that 75% of organisations will shift from piloting to operationalising AI, leading to a five times increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures. This statistic highlights the need for businesses to get on top of how they will ensure a smooth implementation for the long-term.




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