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Mind the investment gap – Understanding the current state of Augmented Intelligence

The technology is the linchpin for empowering employees to deliver the tailored, superior customer experiences needed for business survival in an age of data.

By James Nunns

Whether you define AI as ‘Artificial Intelligence’ or ‘Augmented Intelligence’, it’s a hot button topic for businesses and mainstream news agendas alike. Despite the rise in awareness and discussion, it’s still unclear how many businesses are at the point where they’re ready to make actual investment in this technology.

Vera Loftis, Managing Director at Bluewolf in London.

Vera Loftis, Managing Director at Bluewolf in London.

To better understand the current state of AI within the business world, Bluewolf conducted a survey among Salesforce decision-makers across multiple industries to measure the overall maturity of business system infrastructure.

The findings revealed an intriguing set of trends, most notably the ‘AI Investment Gap’. Our survey uncovered a space between C-Level executives who understand AI and others who are yet to introduce the technology into their business.

In the survey, 82% of C-Suite respondents state that they understood the impact AI can have on their organization. Of this sample, 67% state they had already invested in AI to enhance their business.

It appears that there is still some way to go in terms of raising awareness that companies, regardless of size and industry, can and will benefit from using AI. The technology is the linchpin for empowering employees to deliver the tailored, superior customer experiences needed for business survival in an age of data.


The impact on analysts

What else did we discover? AI and other intelligent analytics tools are making a huge impact on analysts. We surveyed respondents from Financial Services, an industry known for a large number of analysts, finding 25% use AI tools today, whilst 29% expect to purchase AI tools within the next 12 months.

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This means that 54% have either already made some level of investment today or plan to in the next year. This should come as no surprise, as any company looking to invest in AI will find themselves more able to focus on higher-priority analytical tasks, saving their company time and money, and promoting more favourable revenue growth. These benefits apply to any industry, but for Financial Services, in particular, these advantages are being welcomed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, small businesses report being less active in the adoption of AI tools. Only 21% of survey respondents claim to use AI in their business today. This is a missed opportunity as adopting AI via cloud based services can enable smaller businesses to “punch above their weight” by gaining insights through AI analytics that were previously only available to large enterprises.

Read more: Bluewolf CEO on cloud’s people problem & bringing the IBM tech stack to Salesforce

For example, small retail businesses can already combine local shopping patterns, weather, and retail industry data from technologies like IBM Watson, with customer-specific shopping data, and preferences from Salesforce Einstein.

When adopting AI, the main challenge enterprise companies face is understanding how to appropriately balance improvements in productivity against the cultural shift this requires from their employees. In the survey, 30% of enterprise respondents state they use AI in their business today and 44% expect to purchase capabilities within the next 12 months. In other words, 74% of enterprise organizations will have deployed or be using AI within the next 12 months.


The cost of productivity

As agile business models become the norm, and changes in how employees handle their day-to-day responsibilities continue to change dramatically, businesses need to ensure that amongst all the benefits AI brings them, they do not come at the cost of productivity. Access to data for faster, smarter decision-making is an excellent business advantage, but enterprise organizations hungry for this capability will only make the most of it by unifying the nuances of their operating model with AI capabilities. This is the way to demonstrate value quickly.

At Bluewolf, we believe AI enhances human capabilities with deep data analysis and actionable insights. It does not discriminate across role or industry. In some cases, manual tasks will be fully automated; in other cases, AI will provide recommendations and guidance for a more effective human/machine interaction.

AI and cognitive components such as IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein are already being used to predict, assist and make recommendations across Sales, Marketing and Service. Businesses of all sizes and industries are starting to take advantage, and for good reason: there’s never a bad time to bring AI into your organisation. The time is always now.

As enterprise technology continues to evolve, it will become increasingly worthwhile for businesses to review their IT and business processes to ensure that they are, not only serving their entire organization, but in the best way possible for their industry.

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