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The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) featured in the speeches of many leading figures at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week, including that of UK Prime Minister Theresa May. She stated how the UK is establishing itself as a world leader in artificial intelligence with reportedly one new AI start-up created in the country every week for the past three years.
Infosys, a global provider of technology services and consulting, used snowy Davos as the backdrop for presenting its global research on the impact AI implementations are having on return-on-investment, the workforce and organisational leadership. The key finding of the report, Leadership in the Age of AI, was that enterprise AI is moving beyond the experimental phase with technologies being deployed more broadly and tangible benefits being realised.
According to the survey, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their AI deployments have already transformed the way they do business, and 90 per cent of C-level executives reported measurable benefits from AI within their organisations.
There are also signs that organisations are being proactive when it comes to preparing employees and business leaders for the future of work, with more than half (53 per cent) of respondents indicating that their organisation has increased training in the job functions most affected by AI deployments.
Mohit Joshi, president of Infosys, reckons while there has been a tremendous amount of hype around AI, the vast majority of enterprises with AI deployments are realising clear and measurable results.
“AI, as the research shows, is becoming core to business strategy, and is compelling business leaders to alter the way they hire, train and inspire teams, and the way they compete and foster innovation,” he says, adding: “Industry disruption from AI is no longer imminent, it is here. The organisations that embrace AI with a clearly defined strategy and use AI to amplify their workforce rather than replace it, will take the lead, and those that don’t will fall behind or find themselves irrelevant.”
The survey also goes some way to dispelling the myth that AI is coming after all our jobs. For the majority of organisations, investing in people is key to AI success: 77 per cent of respondents were confident that employees in their organisation can be trained for the new job roles AI technologies will create.
Infosys points out that respondents showed commitment to this belief by ranking training and recruitment as the top areas of investment (46 per cent and 44 per cent respectively) in order for AI technologies to make an impact. And C-level executives similarly called out training the leadership team on AI as a top priority with 47 per cent of business leaders putting leadership training in their top three priorities compared to two fifths who put employee training in their top three priorities.
Four out of five C-level executives also said that their future business strategy will be informed through opportunities made available with AI technology. Business leaders were confident that their executive teams have the ability to adapt their leadership skills as AI technologies are adopted, with 80 per cent of C-level executives in agreement. However, training at executive level is still deemed critical with three quarters of IT decision makers reporting that their executives would benefit from formal training on the implications of AI technologies.
In addition, business leaders are optimistic that AI tech will ultimately create more opportunity for employees than they will eliminate with the C-level agreeing that AI tech will have a positive effect on their workforce (70 per cent), benefit customers (45 per cent) and employees (43 per cent).
The positive attitude towards AI that the report highlights is a welcome one and it is great to see so many C-level executives having such informed views of AI. It is evident that AI has not only moved out of the experimental stage but into a far broader organisational context.
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