Businesses are moving past the pilot phase of AI adoption

08 September 2020 5 min. read

While the pool of organisations ramping up their investments in artificial intelligence (AI) is growing rapidly, only a handful of businesses that have managed to scale the technology are actually reaping its full benefits.

Following up on a survey conducted back in 2017, Capgemini delved into the state of AI in the global business environment once more to gauge the latest state of play. At the time, the firm surveyed a thousand businesses around the world and found that most were in the pilot/proof of concept phase of their AI investments, with only a third using the tech in production.

The latest survey of nearly a thousand organisations – each with $1 billion plus in revenue – found that since then, significant progress has been made. More than half have moved beyond the pilot phase to actually develop a variety of use cases for AI in their business, although many remain shy of deploying these solutions at scale across the organisation, indicating the next step for artificial intelligence.

Percentage of organizations that moved beyond AI pilots/pocs increased to 53%In fact, just over 10% have reached ‘AI-at-scale leader’ status, according to Capgemini, having deployed the solutions in production with constant development of application through various functional areas. A look at where AI is deployed among these leaders reveals the potential of AI in a business.

AI has long been lauded for its ability to enhance customer experience. The authors report that nearly 90% of AI leaders use it for this purpose, while more than 70% use it to help employees manage customer interactions. Bots also improve and optimise interaction within the organisation, amongst employees.

More than 80% of AI leaders use it to detect regulatory risks, while nearly 80% use it to detect fraud. Applications for risk also extend to the IT space, with 84% using it for cyber threat detection. Just under 80% have also deployed the technology towards self-healing apps. Product development and new AI-based offerings are also popular applications.

Top use cases implemented by AI-at-scale leaders at scale

Less than two-thirds of AI leaders have managed to deploy AI in supply chain management. The technology has tremendous value in preventing failures and defects, while also reducing energy and material consumption, although less than 60% of organisations have managed to deploy AI to this end.

Nevertheless, this handful of leaders remains a cut above the rest, and is reaping the fruit of investment. Most AI leaders have seen a 25% or more: Increase in sales; fall in threats; and reduction in customer complaints. More than a third have in addition seen a significant improvement in their operational efficiency, having automated redundant tasks. In fact, 97% of AI leaders report quantifiable benefits to their business from AI.

Even amongst organisations that are still working towards more AI implementation, around a third have seen improvements across all these metrics, while just under 20% have managed to optimise efficiency using AI. More than two-thirds of these businesses have also branded their AI-related benefits as quantifiable.

More than 9 out of 10 AI-at-scale leaders have realized quantifiable benefits

Growing maturity

Across the board, AI appears to be meeting, if not exceeding expectations. Only 5% or less of both AI leaders and other organisations report that the benefits of AI fell short of expectations. The rest have reported a match in expectations, while nearly 40% of AI leaders report that the technology has exceeded their expectations.

That being said, the level of AI maturity differs significantly based on the nature of business and the sectoral context. For instance, Capgemini reports that businesses in the life sciences and retail sectors lead the AI maturity scale. More than a third of these businesses have deployed AI use cases in production, while well over 20% continue to scale up these use cases across the business.

Life sciences and retail lead the scaling race

Report co-author and Managing Director of Capgemini’s Artificial Intelligence practice Anne-Laure Thieullent points out that AI deployment in the life Sciences sector will further be spurred on by its applications so far in tackling the Covid-19 crisis. Be it ‘track and trace’ technology, data analysis or data visualisation, “governments in countries including the US, China, and South Korea have stepped up the use of AI technologies to contain the spread of Covid-19 and to handle citizens’ concerns,” she said.

In the retail sector, meanwhile, AI has the potential to unlock a mammoth financial impact. A Capgemini report from last year found that deploying AI in retail could save companies as much as $300 billion going forth. Nearly half of all companies in the sector are already past the pilot stage, according to the latest report, while a third have deployed AI in production.

Other sectors such as automotive, telecom, utilities, energy, insurance, manufacturing have all seen significant deployment of AI in production, but lag behind in terms of scaling these use cases to the entire business. Capgemini anticipates that most will be looking to catch up with AI leaders in the years to come.