Most organisations have not cut funding to artificial intelligence (AI) investment since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from Gartner – indicating the technology’s significance in enabling business continuity and its status as a buffer to business bottom line.
The survey, which polled around 200 business and IT professionals last month revealed that 24% of respondents’ organisations increased their artificial intelligence (AI) investments and 42% kept them unchanged since February, when the global spread of the pandemic began.
And, the survey finds, 75% of organisations will either continue or launch new AI initiatives as part of a ‘renew phase’ which will begin ‘post-pandemic’.
“Enterprise investment in AI has continued unabated despite the crisis,” says Gartner research vice president Frances Karamouzis.
“However, the most significant struggle of moving AI initiatives into production is the inability for organisations to connect those investments back to business value.”
This is why customer experience growth, revenue growth and cost optimisation are the top focus areas for the AI initiatives currently in place for many companies.
Meanwhile, 79% of survey respondents reported their organisations were exploring potential AI projects – but only 21% of respondents said such initiatives were in production.
Lack of AI talent is a myth
While it can be said that the operationalisation of AI has not quite met its potential in 2020, this cannot be attributed to a lack of AI talent, says Gartner.
According to another Gartner survey from December 2019, only 7% of 607 IT leaders said that limited IT skills are a barrier to AI implementation.
Rather, at the top of the list were security and privacy concerns, as well as the complexity of integrating AI within existing infrastructure.
“AI talent is not one thing, it’s multiple things,” says Gartner research vice president Erick Brethenoux.
“The biggest misconception in the journey to successfully scaling AI is the search for ‘unicorns,’ or the perfect combination of AI, business and IT skills all present in a single resource.
“Since this is impossible to fulfill, focus instead on bringing together a balanced combination of such skills to ensure results.”
Even within those organisations with lower-than-average AI maturity, there is no shortage of AI skills; in fact, 56% of these companies report either possessing enough talent or the ability to hire or train for new AI talent.
And, naturally, as organisations increase in AI maturity, so too does the level of reported AI talent, with 89% having no issues acquiring AI skills at the highest maturity level.