Hopes and Fears For AI in Business

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2 min read
Some results from an international survey of executives who are using AI at scale

Corporate executives worldwide are gearing up to take advantage of AI. But those in different countries aim to use the technology differently, and they bring different hopes and fears.

What’s new: In an international survey of executives who are using AI at scale, two-thirds believed AI already is “very” or “critically” important to success, according to Deloitte’s latest State of AI in the Enterprise report. Roughly 10 percent of respondents had achieved a return on their AI investment of 40 percent or more. Roughly 30 percent saw less than 10 percent return. The rest saw ROIs in between.

Experience versus strategy: Deloitte rated respondents in the U.S. the most seasoned. However, more of those in China and the UK reported having a company-wide AI strategy.

Different goals: While most executives in China said AI would help them widen their lead over competitors, majorities in Australia, Canada, and France were using AI to catch up or stay abreast of the competition. Those in the U.S. were nearly evenly divided between those aims.

Benefits: Early adopters deemed the primary benefits of AI to be:

  • enhancing products and services
  • optimizing internal operations

Challenges: They regarded the top challenges of AI as:

  • data
  • implementation
  • cost
  • measuring value

Risks: About half of French executives expressed “major” or “extreme” concern about AI’s potential risks. Among those in China, that number was only 16 percent. Generally, the greater the concern, the less the confidence expressed in preparations to meet it. The biggest concerns were:

  • cybersecurity
  • faulty predictions
  • bias

Talent shortage: 68 percent of those surveyed judged the gap between skills needed and those available to be “moderate” to “extreme.” The top three roles needed were:

  • researchers
  • software developers
  • data scientists

We're thinking: Globally, more than half of those surveyed said AI would substantially transform their company within three years, and roughly half said it would transform their industry within five. Deloitte consequently sees a two- to three-year window for companies to use AI to differentiate. It’s hard to believe, though, that the window is that brief. Even 30 years after the invention of the web, companies are still figuring out how to use it. The dust isn't likely to settle around AI in less than a decade.


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