In 2017, consulting firm Deloitte created its first ever “State of AI in the Enterprise” report. Fast forward to 2018 and the 2nd edition has recently been released. Deloitte set out to obtain a cross-industry view of how organizations are utilizing and drawing real results from artificial intelligence initiatives. For this year’s report, they spoke with over 1000 IT and line-of-business executives from US based organizations.

Reading through this report provides data-driven evidence that organizations which adopted the power of AI earlier than their competitors are confident with their investment – seeing financial results along the way. We did the heavy lifting for you and extracted the top four takeaways from the 2nd edition of the State of AI in the Enterprise:

Takeaway 1: AI is no longer an option. It’s a necessity.

Enterprise organizations are turning to AI to gain a competitive edge. It’s no surprise as customer loyalty and customer experience are practically inseparable . Today’s customer wants and expects highly personalized digital experiences and the better those experiences are, the more loyal they’ll be. However, without AI and machine learning capabilities, providing relevant experiences at scale is virtually impossible.

“Many early adopters are investing in cognitive technologies to improve their competitiveness. Sixty-three percent of surveyed executives said their AI initiatives are needed to catch up with their rivals or, at best, to open a narrow lead. And the linkage between adept application of AI and competitive advantage appears to be growing stronger. Eleven percent said that adopting AI is of “critical strategic importance” today, but 42 percent believe it will be critical two years from now. This is a small window for companies to hone their AI strategies and skills, and they believe their success depends upon getting it right.”

Takeaway 2: Investment in AI has a measurable ROI.

“Tech companies are spending significantly on cognitive, and getting a strong return.”

Leading technology companies that have leveraged AI and made it a core part of their strategies are reaping major rewards . But that doesn’t mean it’s only tech companies that stand to benefit from the power of cognitive technologies. The chart below illustrates how enterprises of all stripes are benefitting in the wake of AI investments.

“In our survey, 82 percent said they have gained a financial return from their AI investments. For companies across all industries, the median return on investment from cognitive technologies is 17 percent. Some are more adept than others at turning investment into financial benefits “

Takeaway 3: AI is best served enhancing products and processes.

While many articles have been written that suggest AI will steal jobs, the Deloitte study suggests otherwise. Organizations are leveraging AI primarily to enhance current products, optimize internal operations, and make better decisions. We have found that to be true as well. In fact, our clients leveraging AI across the enterprise, from enhancing their support operations, to optimizing their digital experience – and are using data-driven insights to make decisions that are helping to scale.

“This shift toward internal operations has been accompanied by a somewhat reduced emphasis on integrating AI into existing products and services, although that remains the most popular objective.”

Takeaway 4: Out-of-the-box enterprise software is the most popular and easiest path to AI

According to their survey, Deloitte said that nearly 60% of enterprises are utilizing enterprise software that has AI technologies directly built in. This goes hand in hand with the fact that there is a global talent shortage when it comes to AI professionals – reportedly there are approximately 300,000 AI professionals worldwide, but millions of roles looking to be filled.

With this skill shortage in mind, enterprises are turning to out-of-the-box solutions as opposed to building their own from the ground up. AI services are constantly extending and improving their toolsets, enabling enterprises to do more with their AI investment, without the need for an army of AI professionals.

“Thirty-seven percent of respondents say their companies have invested US$5 million or more in cognitive technologies. Another reason is that companies have more ways to acquire cognitive capabilities, and they are taking advantage. Nearly 60 percent are taking what is perhaps the easiest path: using enterprise software with AI “baked in”. The “easy path” will likely become even more attractive as software vendors and cloud providers develop AI offerings tailored to business functions.”

When considering the state of AI for the enterprise in 2018, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds by controversial headlines. While AI remains a mystery to most, the early adopters are making significant progress in future-proofing their business for the digital age. With customers, partners, and colleagues expectations rising rapidly – AI is the only way forward. To learn more about what AI can do today for your organization, enjoy our blog post “What Can AI Do Today For Your Business.