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CIOs told to aim low with AI as adoption remains flat

AI adoption is set to increase from CIOs, but organisations are advised to start off small.

By April Slattery

Despite the huge benefits artificial intelligence (AI) demonstrates for organisations, only 4% of CIOs have adopted the technology according to Gartner.

Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey has revealed that 4% of CIOs have already implemented positive AI projects, with a further 46% already developing plans to do so.

The impact AI has had on businesses and individuals over the last year has been life-changing. From the use of AI in healthcare to detect illnesses to tracking criminals with data records in police stations, it is no surprise more CIOs want to tap into the technology.

“Despite huge levels of interest in AI technologies, current implementations remain at quite low levels,” said Whit Andrews, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, there is potential for strong growth as CIOs begin piloting AI programs through a combination of buy, build and outsource efforts.”

Although the rewards of AI adoption can be huge, taking on the technology has still brought many obstacles and issues to organisations over the years. Gartner has identified that CIOs must learn from four key lessons when adopting AI technologies.

Firstly, analysts recommend CIOs ‘Aim Low at First’ and start AI projects with a much smaller scope and aim for soft outcomes. These include things such as process improvements, customer satisfaction and financial benchmarking. Another element to start low at first on is the financial target businesses hope to reach. Gartner suggests this is set as low as possible.

CIOs told to aim low with AI as adoption remains flat

Gartner recommends aiming low at first to reap the best outcomes.

 

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“Don’t fall into the trap of primarily seeking hard outcomes, such as direct financial gains, with AI projects,” Andrews said. “Think of targets in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, understand what you’re trying to accomplish on a small scale, and only then pursue more-dramatic benefits.”

The implementation of AI has brought some negative feedback from workers, that they will one day be replaced by robotics and automation. Gartner’s survey outlined that whilst reducing costs by implementing AI is attractive to executives, it is inevitably the opposite for workers who believe their jobs will be at risk. However past research from Gartner has proven that AI will bring more jobs than it will destroy, with a total of 2.3million jobs being created with just 1.8million lost in comparison.

“We advise our clients that the most transformational benefits of AI in the near term will arise from using it to enable employees to pursue higher-value activities,” Analyst Andrews said. “It will be far more productive to engage with workers on the front line. Get them excited and engaged with the idea that AI-powered decision support can enhance and elevate the work they do every day.”

The third element Gartner Analyst found was important when adopting AI was ‘Planning for Knowledge Transfer’. From talks with Gartner clients, many have said that they are not well-prepared for implementing AI, specifically around the lack of internal STEM skills.  According to Gartner’s survey, just over half (53%) of organisations admitted that their own ability to mine and exploit data is ‘limited’.

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“Relying mostly on external suppliers for these skills is not an ideal long-term solution. Therefore, ensure that early AI projects help transfer knowledge from external experts to your employees, and build up your organization’s in-house capabilities before moving on to large-scale projects,” Jim Hare, research vice president at Gartner said.”Data is the fuel for AI, so organizations need to prepare now to store and manage even larger amounts of data for AI initiatives.”

The survey predicts that 85% of AI projects will deliver inaccurate results, due to bias in data or the teams responsible for managing them. Therefore, it is imperative that STEM skills are developed before consequences occur.

Gartner’s final lesson to learn about when adopting AI is ‘Choosing Transparent AI Solutions’. Gartner analyst Andrews points out that it is not just important as to whether an AI system can produce the right answer, but also ensuring executives understand why it is effective. Without knowledge of why it is effective and how it helps the business, CIOs will not be able to deploy the technology further in the future and better the outcomes it has already seen.

The survey findings bring a positive light to the future of AI in businesses as CIOs make the commitment. Other areas Government CIOs have committing to invest ‘big’ in cloud computing and cyber security in 2018.

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