key findings

The findings of this research report are wide-ranging, covering how big companies in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific,
and Latin America are spending on, using, and benefiting from AI, and managing the related adoption challenges.

84% of companies consider AI to be essential, and nearly half see it as a transformative technology:

62% of these companies see AI as being important to remaining competitive by 2020, and project that their investments will be transformative, not merely aimed at improving the status quo

Only a few are making bold investments today, which may trigger a competitive imbalance tomorrow:

Conservative spending may come to haunt the majority; the companies with the greatest revenue and cost improvements in 2015 from their AI initiatives outspent those with the smallest improvements by a factor of five.

Average AI investments per company are highest in North America and Europe:

North American companies spent an average $80 million and European companies invested an average $73 million on AI initiatives in 2015. 8.5% of North American firms and 6.5% of European companies planned to spend at least $250 million on AI initiatives in 2016.

By the end of the decade, AI’s impact will expand far beyond the IT function:

68% of companies use AI in their IT function today. They see this changing by 2020, when sales, marketing, customer service, and even non-customer-facing corporate functions will be the biggest beneficiaries of AI.

AI is helping employees do better work, and companies do work they couldn’t do before:

Across 11 key business functions such as sales, customer service, marketing, manufacturing and production, finance and even at the corporate level, AI is helping companies automate tasks, help employees, and do work no one had done before.

While AI is automating jobs, it is seen creating many new jobs as well:

Companies with the biggest revenue and cost improvements from AI last year see the need for at least three times as many new jobs in each function by 2020 than companies with the smallest improvements from AI in 2015.

Four factors were ranked amongst the most important for generating benefits from AI:

a) Making AI systems secure against hacking;
b) Developing systems that continually learn to make better decisions;
c) Developing systems that make reliable and safe decisions;
d) Getting employees and managers to trust what AI is advising them to do

Five main characteristics defined the companies with the biggest revenue and cost improvements from AI in 2015:

a) Outspent the companies with the smallest improvements from AI by a factor of five;
b) Used AI across their organizations, especially in areas that appear incidental to generating short-term revenue;
c) Yet focused on areas that directly impacted their ability to make (and lose) money;
d) Paid more attention to addressing fears of unemployment;
e) Ensured IT departments didn’t suffer the ’cobbler’s children’ syndrome of using AI everywhere else but in IT