Business AI Adoption: From Theory to Reality

Just a few short years ago, the AI field was dominated by large-scale, big-budget tech companies that soaked up the limited AI-related talent available.

Today, AI adoption rates tell a different story: A growing number of organizations across a variety of industries are integrating AI-driven solutions into their tech stacks (and designing their own AI applications) with impressive results.

There are a few factors driving this change:

  1. More widely-available AI education is allowing a growing number of organizations to access AI-related talent – one online AI course had attracted more than 1.7 million students as of July 2018.
  2. Standardized frameworks like TensorFlow and PyTorch are making it easier for developers to create algorithms.
  3. Pre-built algorithms are allowing people to use and apply AI tools without being an AI guru themselves.

Although adoption of AI is still in the early stages, pioneering companies around the globe show that it’s only a matter of time before AI-powered innovation becomes the norm.

Let’s take a closer look at AI adoption rates and how it’s revolutionizing business as we know it.

Which Industries Are Benefiting From AI?

With an increasing number of pre-built AI technologies available, AI has gained a presence in almost every industry imaginable. However, some are embracing it more wholeheartedly than others.

According to CB Insights’ State of AI 2018 report, the industries who have invested the most in AI include healthcare, cross-industry applications, cybersecurity, commerce, advertising, marketing, financial services and insurance.

It’s not just big companies that are adopting AI, either: According to a survey from Intuit and Emergent Research, small businesses are using AI. Sixty-six percent of small businesses are using automation technology, and 11 percent of that is AI-driven.

And, as data science becomes more important to companies big and small, the number of organizations using AI will rise. Monica Rogati’s “Data Science Hierarchy of Needs,” as shown below, demonstrates AI’s position as the final frontier of data science.

How Are Companies Using AI?

AI isn’t just theoretically valuable — for countless businesses, strategically deployed AI can boost revenue and improve operational efficiencies.

McKinsey estimates that AI can create a tremendous amount of value in nearly all industries, with the transport and logistics, travel and retail industries standing to gain hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ninety-one percent of survey respondents in research conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group expect new business value from AI implementations in the coming five years.

The same report also found that the majority of AI pioneers prioritize revenue increases over cost reductions, but the opposite is true for passives and “experimenters” (i.e., companies who have piloted or adopted AI but don’t yet understand it).

AI Use Cases by Industry

To see how companies who have adopted AI are realizing its full potential, let’s look at a few compelling use cases.

Retail

Retail companies around the world are using AI in a rich variety of ways. Businesses are currently using:

Advanced algorithms to provide personalized customer recommendations.
AI sales reps to increase engagement with leads.
Friendly AI robots to draw in foot traffic.
AI-powered payment services to streamline the checkout process and protect customers from fraud.

Financial Services

The financial services industry has eagerly adopted AI, and has successfully discovered a multitude of ways to put it to good use. Some of the biggest banks in the U.S. are using:

Virtual assistants to help millions of customers simultaneously.
Robo-advisors to help clients make smart investment decisions.
AI-driven analysis to quickly identify and prevent fraud.
Internet bots to boost productivity and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

Healthcare

AI isn’t just changing business models and boosting profits — it’s also providing patients with better, more efficient healthcare. Innovative healthcare facilities around the world are using:

AI-powered robots to assist surgeons during operations and develop new surgical techniques.
Image analysis to quickly and thoroughly analyze thousands of patient scans.
AI algorithms to accurately detect and predict cancers, heart attacks and other conditions.
Virtual nursing assistants to check on patients and answer any questions they may have around the clock.

Although AI isn’t yet the norm, companies who have adopted it have seen significant and measurable results. With the vast majority of AI pioneers increasing their financial commitment to AI, and global AI spending expected to swell to $52.2 billion in 2021, it’s clear that AI is poised to grow and change the landscape of computing forever.

With widespread AI on the horizon, companies simply can’t afford to look the other way. By investing in AI now, companies small and large can strengthen their future in the AI-driven market of tomorrow.