Executive involvement in enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives is growing rapidly and more emphasis is being placed on high-quality training data. Both C-suite ownership of AI and budgets over $500K nearly doubled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic serving as a catalyst for accelerated AI initiatives. A key lesson learned from the pandemic is that businesses need to be ready for anything that requires a high level of business agility. It's Darwinism at its finest as businesses that can adapt to market trends faster than their competition can become market leaders and maintain that position. Those that can't do this will fade into obscurity with many going away.
Business leaders and technologists see artificial intelligence differently -- which is not a surprise. However, they have different perspectives on the progress on AI projects, and what it takes to scale AI to meet enterprise challenges. For example, technologists are twice as likely to see lack of viable data as an issue. "This could be attributed to business leaders misunderstanding that the data on hand is often not the data needed when it comes to deploying AI at scale," the authors of a recent survey report released by Appen, surmise. When asked about the issues encountered with AI, technologists were more likely than business leaders to cite skills issues (24% versus 21%) and lack of data (17% versus 9%).
Appen Limited, a leading provider of high-quality training data for organizations that build effective AI systems at scale, released its annual State of AI Report for 2020. The report highlights increasing C-suite involvement and investment in enterprise AI projects as well as data being a key challenge as AI models get more frequent updates in production. The report also reveals the recent acceleration of AI strategies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, nearly 75 percent of businesses now consider AI critical to their success, and AI continues to grow in importance across companies of various sizes and industries. Yet, almost 50 percent of those who responded to the 2020 State of AI survey feel their company is behind on their AI journey, suggesting a critical gap exists between the strategic need and the ability to execute.
The stat comes from a survey of 347 business leaders across a variety of industries conducted by Australian data AI company Appen. While about 31% of the respondents said the pandemic has either somewhat (24%) or significantly (8%) delayed AI strategies, about 41% said the pandemic had actually sped up such efforts. The report also found an increase in the number of execs who said AI strategies were now led by members of the C-suite--a jump to 71% of respondents from 40% last year--suggesting that companies increasingly see the field as essential to their core business. Budgets are growing too; 28% of execs say their allocated AI budget is between half a million and $5 million, twice as many as last year's 13%. The small fraction with AI budgets beyond $5 million has similarly doubled from 4% to 8%.
This ebook, based on the latest ZDNet / TechRepublic special feature, advises CXOs on how to approach AI and ML initiatives, figure out where the data science team fits in, and what algorithms to buy versus build. Enthusiasm for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) remains steady for 2019. However, tech leaders admit some trepidation in terms of AI/ML project management and support. How companies manage their AI/ML projects was the topic of a recent survey by ZDNet's premium sister site, Tech Pro Research. Overall, survey respondents said that their AI/ML projects will be more difficult than previous IT projects.