- 72% of tech, media and telecom companies surveyed by Deloitte said artificial intelligence will be critical to their future competitiveness.
- Telecom and media companies also tend to be quicker to embrace AI and ML technology, as opposed to sectors like finance and healthcare.
- Good news: 82% percent of respondents told Deloitte their employees say AI will enhance their performance and job satisfaction.
READ MORE: ‘State of AI in the Enterprise’ Fifth Edition Uncovers Four Key Actions to Maximize AI Value (Deloitte)
Technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) companies perceive AI as more critical to their future than any other industry sector, Deloitte shares in its latest report, “State of AI in the Enterprise.”
The Fifth Edition of the report surveyed 2,620 global business leaders. Of those, 72% in TMT companies strongly agree that AI is very important to their ability to stay competitive over the next five years, 12 percentage points higher than any other industry.
But business leaders in every industry, from retail to finance and healthcare, also deem AI to be critical to success over the next five years.
TMT companies recognizing the importance of AI far more than any other industry should come as little surprise. The first brands that come to mind in the industry are often digital natives such as Google, Amazon and Facebook — brands that are often considered synonymous with AI sophistication since AI is used extensively in their commercial products and services (many of which are foundational enablers across all industries).
However, that’s not the whole story. Some of the legacy brands within the TMT space, such as AT&T and Hearst, are also among the most significant. Survey data indicates that telecommunications and media companies tend to be the furthest along at embracing AI.
“This maturity is likely attributed to telecommunications’ longstanding focus on operational efficiency and, for media companies, the rapid uptake of digital marketing techniques,” Deloitte says.
“Customer acquisition and retention efforts have also driven the development of AI capabilities for telecommunications and media companies and are reflected in the prevalence of these use cases across all sectors.”
Regardless of industry, Deloitte also reports that the general workforce is increasingly optimistic about co-working with AI. Eighty-two percent of respondents indicate that their employees believe that working with AI technologies will enhance their performance and job satisfaction.
The report emphasizes that organizations have begun to realize the benefits of using AI to augment the workforce, rather than replace as many jobs as possible. Many are taking action to support a human-machine collaboration strategy: 43% of all respondents reported their organization has appointed a leader responsible for helping workers collaborate better with intelligent machines. Also, 44% of all respondents reported using AI to assist in decision-making at senior-most levels.
Despite this, data also shows a significant gap in further actions needed to enable the hybrid human-machine workforce. Only 21% of all respondents reported actively educating workers on when to apply AI most effectively, 25% reported providing access of user-friendly AI systems to nontechnical/nonspecialized workers, 30% reported including workers in participative design of AI, and 36% reported redesigning organizational practices in light of a mixed human and machine workforce.
An important element highlighted by the report is that if AI is to be scaled across an organization, then leaders within that business need to foster trust in algorithms.
The survey found that “risks around lack of explainability and transparency in AI decisions, data privacy or consent mismanagement, and safety concerns about AI systems, among others, all loom large as ethical risks that concern organizations.” In fact, 50% of respondents cited management of AI-related risks as one of the top inhibitors to scaling AI projects.
“Trustworthy AI ultimately hinges on ensuring that rigorous processes as well as checks and balances are in place,” Deloitte continues. “To that end, organizations can often achieve better outcomes when they adopt an ethical AI framework that aligns with trustworthy AI principles.”
A final noteworthy point from the report is that technology and talent acquisition are no longer separate when it comes to AI. Given that even the most advanced organizations are still early in their transformations, a majority of organizations still prioritize bringing new AI talent into the business from outside, rather than retraining existing workers (53% versus 34%).
A significant majority of the survey respondents acquire AI as a product or service (65%) rather than attempting to build their own AI solutions in-house (35%), leaning particularly on off-the-shelf solutions at the beginning of their journeys.
“Organizations need to strategize their approach to AI based on the skillsets they have available, whether they derive from humans or pre-packaged solutions,” the report advises. “Companies must develop their AI strategies in a tight talent market, with growing off-the-shelf platforms, tools and accelerators that can jump-start a company’s transformation.”
Beena Ammanath, executive director of the Deloitte AI Institute, says: “The report outlines how AI can propel businesses beyond automating processes for efficiency to redesigning work itself. While organizations face the challenge of middling results, it is clear successful AI transformation requires strong leadership and focused investment, a through-line consistently evident in our annual research.”