AI has become part of everyday life whether we realize it or not. Our smartphones and personal devices capitalize on the power of AI to recommend TV shows and music, answer our questions, and help us choose what products to buy. In the business world it is now commonplace for AI, and its partner machine learning, to play a pivotal role in helping businesses gain new insights from their data, make decisions and automate processes.
Furthermore, if used correctly, artificial intelligence technologies have the potential to help us achieve societal goals. For example, it can be used to increase the health and safety by replacing human workers in dangerous jobs. It can be used to predict weather patterns and provide early warnings in case of hurricanes or floods. The advanced analytical capabilities of AI can accelerate progress in developing new medical treatments, improving food production to help reduce hunger, or find solutions to environmental and climate change challenges.
The possibilities for artificial intelligence are limited only by our own imagination and our capacity for investment and development.
Unimaginable breakthroughs and solutions
Robert Marcus, CEO, ALPHA10X“Innovation has been marked by a series of “kairos” moments, when the accumulation and rate of change meet to generate a wave-like exponential effect, disrupting and dramatically rearranging the world.
The mainstreaming of AI promises unimaginable breakthroughs and solutions to many of our most difficult problems. AI promises to make the source code of life—the algorithmic processes, machines, and computation in nature itself—available to the life sciences, to heal the world.
With global R&D investment topping US$2.4 trillion in 2020, much of that was concentrated in the life sciences sector, an unprecedented chain-reaction of healthcare R&D cycles and a wave of innovation has been activated. It will generate more innovation and impact than any force in history.
For investors, it will be the stuff of dreams.
Public policymakers, investors, and business leaders armed with AI-powered, data-driven decision-support systems, will begin to unlock the hidden knowledge that enables unparalleled scientific discovery and predict the future to target their innovation programs and funds at the technologies that will deliver maximum impact and financial return. If we get it right, AI has the potential to positively impact the lives of billions.”
Perceived benefits to business
Dentons’ AI Survey found that 60% of businesses are using AI in some way.
Just under half (48%) of the respondents were testing the waters through AI pilot projects in different parts of their business. Only 12% were using AI technologies extensively.
It is therefore not surprising that the biggest perceived benefits were related to operational efficiency, for example by saving time (94%), reducing human error (89%) and cutting costs (88%) through process automation. The other key benefit was in using AI to generate insights from the company’s data to be used in decision making (90%). On the other hand enhancing the customer experience (81%) or enabling new product offerings (75%) lagged slightly behind the other perceived benefits.
Although enhancing the customer experience did not top the list of benefits, our survey found that the area in which AI is used most frequently is in client relationship management, with 24% of respondents indicating this use. One may surmise that many of the AI tools currently used in client relationship management are intended to improve the efficiency of client service—for example by using chatbots to answer frequently asked questions—rather than the quality of the relationship itself. However, further study would be required to confirm this.
Other common uses included administration (19%), sales and marketing (18%) and finance (17%).
One rather alarming statistic that emerged from the survey was that 27% of respondents were not aware what parts of their business used AI—pointing to a general lack of awareness, which could give rise to risks further down the road.
Planning ahead—the case for an AI strategy
Our survey findings show that the majority of businesses are still in the initial stages of their AI journey. They recognize the potential benefits that AI offers but have not yet fully realized the potential application for their business. Rather, they are dipping their toe in the water before diving in.
It is therefore unsurprising that only 19% have developed an AI strategy, while another 23% are in the process of developing one. It is only natural that companies would choose to take small exploratory steps before committing time, money and resources to a full-blown AI strategy. Indeed, a “trial and error” approach is often a key part of any corporate innovation.
Policymakers set the speed of technological development. That said, organizations that sit back and wait for policy decisions will lose the ability to help shape how the regulatory landscape should work in their business. The market is setting the rules, and the sooner businesses engage in dialogue with policymakers, the better regulation we will get in the end.
As you will see in this report, there are a number of risks and challenges that need to be addressed in order to maximize the benefits of AI, while avoiding or mitigating risks. Therefore, it is now an ideal time to start considering your AI strategy.