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Critics say the age of AI is still far off, or even that the term “AI” is a fraud. The truth is, AI is already radically transforming our world behind the scenes. To be sure, no business has managed to replicate true human intelligence in a machine just yet. But that doesn’t mean AI isn’t already playing a pivotal role in business today.
The growth of AI adoption
In fact, many businesses are facing a key turning point in AI adoption. IBM’s report on the state of AI, the IBM Global AI Adoption Index 2022, highlights that nearly 80% of businesses are either using AI in their business today or are exploring its usage. That leaves only 20% of businesses that are not using or planning to use AI.
In countries like China, adoption is even higher, with 58% of businesses currently using AI, and another 30% planning to do so.
Moreover, IBM’s report shows that “AI adoption is growing steadily, up four points from 2021.” Already, the vast majority of businesses are reaping the benefits of AI, and trends suggest that AI will only become more ubiquitous in business in the years to come. They are using it to glean actionable insights, improve operational efficiency, decipher customer behaviors, reduce costs and more.
The report goes on to indicate that the top barriers to AI adoption are lack of technical skills (cited by 34% of respondents) and price concerns (cited by 29% of respondents). Further, project complexity (24%) and data complexity (24%) are also holding some organizations back from fully realizing the potential of AI.
These barriers will undoubtedly fall in time as businesses gain more experience with AI and mature in their understanding of how to use it effectively. In the meantime, those businesses which do embrace AI will be the ones that reap the rewards and reach new heights.
The rising need to adopt AI
Further, the importance of AI adoption is surging in the aftermath of COVID-19. The pandemic has forced businesses to rapidly find new ways to operate, and AI has been a key enabler in that transition. Businesses that were already using AI were able to quickly pivot and adapt to the new landscape, while those that weren’t using AI struggled.
This is likely to lead to an acceleration in AI adoption in the coming years as businesses realize the importance of being able to quickly adapt and change course in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
For one, safety has become a key concern in the post-COVID world, and AI can play a vital role in ensuring safety in a range of environments. Businesses are using AI-powered cameras and sensors to help improve driver safety, fight malware and more.
On the health front, AI is also being used to monitor face masks and social distancing. As with a driver safety use case, these solutions use AI-powered cameras and sensors to detect when people are not wearing face masks or are not socially distant. This helps businesses ensure a safe environment for their employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
Beyond pandemic-related safety concerns, AI can also help businesses improve workplace safety, particularly in industries like construction, manufacturing and more. For example, AI can be used to track employee safety compliance, monitor equipment for maintenance needs, and more.
You’ve already adopted AI
Most AI adoption happens behind the scenes, which is why many people are surprised to find out that they’re already using AI in their everyday lives.
Google, for instance, uses AI to improve search engine results, enable smart advertisement bidding, power Google Maps’ navigation, ensure safe content on YouTube, provide sharing suggestions in Google Photos, increase Google Translate’s accuracy, and far more.
Meanwhile, Facebook deploys AI to match users with advertisers, rank search results, translate posts, and even flag messages indicating that a user is struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Amazon, too, relies on AI for a host of tasks, from improving product recommendations to improving forecasting efforts. In addition, initiatives like Amazon Alexa and Amazon Go, the cashier-less store, are powered by AI.
These products and services are used by billions of people around the world every day, yet few realize that AI is powering them.
The takeaway? The age of AI disruption is already here, even if we don’t always notice it. Businesses that embrace AI will be the ones that reap the rewards and reach new heights.
Valerias Bangert is a strategy and innovation consultant, founder of three media outlets and published author.