AI expanding in the enterprise (whether or not you know it)

Many organizations are already using technologies that rely on artificial intelligence, according to a recent study, and many more will adopt AI technologies within the next two years.

By Thor Olavsrud
July 22, 2016


Virtual face of artificial intelligence circuits and binary data

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are already proliferating in the enterprise. However, many business leaders don't realize they're leveraging technologies that rely on AI, according to a new study by natural language generation (NLG) specialist Narrative Science. Despite the confusion, adoption is imminent.

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Stuart Frankel, CEO and co-founder of Narrative Science.

"AI has been around for a long time," says Stuart Frankel, CEO and co-founder of Narrative Science. "While it is super-hot and very buzzy today, there are still some success stories of AI that we just don't consider AI anymore. We use it every day and we're used to it. I think that's a natural progression. Once that esoteric technology that's sort of hard to explain gets wide adoption, it's no longer AI anymore."

Oh, that's AI?

In its survey of 345 business executives from a variety of industries, fielded by National Business Research Institute from April 25 to May 27 this year, Narrative Science found that 26 percent of respondents said they are currently using AI technologies in the workplace to automate manual, repetitive tasks.

That's up 15 percent year-over-year. And 38 percent reported using AI technologies in total. But when Narrative Science asked organizations about their use of technologies that rely on AI techniques — predictive analytics, automated written reporting and communications, voice recognition and response and so on. — 88 percent of respondents who had said their organizations don't use AI reported their organizations use one or more of those technologies.

In other words, companies are benefitting from AI-powered applications without even realizing it.

But what you call it is less important than what you're doing with it, Frankel says.

"I don't think in most cases that it matters, except to say that people that are making technology decisions, decisions that impact big areas of organizations, need to have some understanding of the technology they're buying," Frankel says.

Whatever term organizations use for these technologies, they are using them, according to Narrative Science's study. Thirty-eight percent of the survey group say they are already using AI technologies, and 56 percent plan to deploy AI technologies within the next two years (23 percent within the next 12 months). That means 62 percent of respondents' organizations will likely be using AI technologies by 2018.

AI without IT

Frankel points to the fact that AI technologies have become much more accessible as a big factor in their explosion within the enterprise.

"It's easy for departments now or even individuals within certain organizations to test AI technologies," he says. "They don't need to get IT involved. I think what we're seeing is AI penetrate the enterprise pretty quickly, but not necessarily widescale across many companies."

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