Despite executives having high expectations for the impact that AI will have on their businesses according to Cognizant’s new report, ‘Making AI Responsible – and Effective, only half of companies have policies and procedures in place to identify and address the ethical considerations of its applications and implementations. The study analyses the responses of almost 1,000 executives across the financial services, technology, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, insurance and media & entertainment industries in Europe and the US.
Whilst executives are enthusiastic about the importance and potential benefits of AI to their business, many lack the strategic focus and consideration for the non-technical aspects that are critical to the success of AI, such as trust, transparency and ethics.
Optimism and enthusiasm
The research shows that business leaders are positive about the importance and potential benefits of AI. Roughly two- thirds (63 %) say that AI is extremely or very important to their companies today, and 84 % expect this will be the case three years from now. Lower costs, increased revenues and the ability to introduce new products or services, or to diversify were cited as the key advantages for the future.
Companies that are growing much faster than the average business in their industry, in particular, expect major benefits in coming years, with 86% of executives of these fast-growing companies stating AI is extremely or very important to their company’s success, compared with 57% of those at their competitors with slower growth. These industry leaders say they plan to use AI to drive further growth, solidifying their leading positions and pull even further away from the pack. This is reflected in their greater investment in key AI technologies, including computer vision (64% vs 47%), smart robotics/autonomous vehicles (63% vs 43%) and analysis of natural language (67% vs 42%).
Almost half of those companies (44%) undertaking at least one AI project expect to increase their employee headcount over the next three years as a result of the impact of AIprojects. Retail and financial services industry executives were most likely to expect a boost to employment (56% and 49% respectively).
Disconnect between optimism and actual implementation
However, business leaders’ optimism is disconnected from the actual implementation in many companies. While two-thirds of executives said they knew about an AI project at their company, only 24% of that group – just 15% of all respondents – were aware of projects that were fully implemented.
Some 40% of respondents said that securing senior management commitment, buy-in by the business and even adequate budget were extremely or very challenging, indicating that many companies are not yet fully committed to AI’s central role in advancing business objectives.