Artificial intelligence has evolved from an esoteric research topic--with its origins six decades ago in corporate and academic computer science labs--into a collection of powerful technologies with mainstream business promise and applicability. Deloitte's global AI study finds that, in organizations adopting AI, more than eight in 10 leaders see AI as "very" or "critically" important to their business success in the next two years.1 AI adoption and spending are surging globally. According to one report, 37 percent of organizations have now deployed AI--a 270 percent increase from four years ago.2 Analysts project global spending on AI to top US$35 billion in 2019 and more than double to US$79.2 billion by 2022.3 What is driving this tremendous upswing? Many foresee AI helping to spur enormous productivity gains over the next decade, making it essential to the competitiveness of national economies.4
With leaders increasingly seeing artificial intelligence (AI) as helping to drive the next great economic expansion, a fear of missing out is spreading around the globe. Numerous nations have developed AI strategies to advance their capabilities, through investment, incentives, talent development, and risk management. As AI's importance to the next generation of technology grows, many leaders are worried that they will be left behind and not share in the gains. There is a growing realization of AI's importance, including its ability to provide competitive advantage and change work for the better. A majority of global early adopters say that AI technologies are especially important to their business success today--a belief that is increasing. A majority also say they are using AI technologies to move ahead of their competition, and that AI empowers their workforce. AI success depends on getting the execution right. Organizations often must excel at a wide range of practices to ensure AI success, including developing a strategy, pursuing the right use cases, building a data foundation, and cultivating a strong ability to experiment. These capabilities are critical now because, as AI becomes even easier to consume, the window for competitive differentiation will likely shrink. Early adopters from different countries display varying levels of AI maturity. Enthusiasm and experience vary among early adopters from different countries. Some are pursuing AI vigorously, while others are taking a more cautious approach.
Emerging technologies are making inroads in agencies, and late last year, an event hosted by General Services Administration's DigitalGov University looked at the multitude of application areas for artificial intelligence and virtual reality in government. But where could technologies like blockchain and AI have the biggest impact? Nextgov's Camille Tuutti sat down with Bill Eggers, executive director of Deloitte's Center for Government Insights, to explore that question. This Q&A has been edited and condensed for length and clarity. Nextgov: Where do you see blockchain really being implemented first?
FOR the second straight year, Deloitte surveyed executives in the US knowledgeable about cognitive technologies and artificial intelligence,1 representing companies that are testing and implementing them today. We found that these early adopters2 remain bullish on cognitive technologies' value. As in last year's survey, the level of support for AI is truly extraordinary. These findings illustrate that cognitive technologies hold enticing promise, some of which is being fulfilled today. However, AI technologies may deliver their best returns when companies balance excitement over their potential with the ability to execute. A year later, and the thrill isn't gone. In Deloitte's 2017 cognitive survey, we were struck by early adopters' enthusiasm for cognitive technologies.4 That excitement owed much to the returns they said cognitive technologies were generating: 83 percent stated they were seeing either "moderate" or "substantial" benefits. Respondents also said they expected that cognitive technologies would change both their companies and their industries rapidly. In 2018, respondents remain enthusiastic about the value cognitive technologies bring. Their companies are investing in foundational cognitive capabilities, and using them with more skill. Thirty-seven percent of respondents say their companies have invested US$5 million or more in cognitive technologies. Another reason is that companies have more ways to acquire cognitive capabilities, and they are taking advantage.
Automation and artificial intelligence are poised to free up millions of hours of manpower and save billions of dollars across all levels of government, according to a recent report from Deloitte University Press. The 28-page report, titled AI-augmented Government, examines several case studies, provides a taxonomy of AI systems, and concludes that in the federal government alone, automation with "high investment" could free up as many as 1.2 billion hours of work and save up to $41.1 billion annually. Through the use of rules-based systems, machine translation, computer vision, machine learning, robotics and natural language processing, the report notes the unusual but "tantalizing" paradigm presented by AI in which speed is increased, quality is improved, and cost is reduced -- all in parallel. Researchers said they identified a potential 30 percent savings in government worker time that could happen within five to seven years of implementing an AI solution. The report concludes that AI will fundamentally change how every level of government works, and will do so much sooner than most people believe.