This year has accelerated many long-term trends like digital transformation, cloud adoption, and remote working across enterprises globally. While AI adoption did not match these trends, most organizations persisted with their planned AI investments in 2020. As the year unfolded, we saw several organizations reporting value-generation (increased revenue and/or reduced costs) from their AI initiatives. These successful companies plan to invest even more with AI to maintain their competitive differentiation in the future. At the same time, the rest will be compelled to adopt AI and compete with them. As businesses make AI an integral part of their operations, here’s what we can expect in 2021.
Operationalizing AI-driven decisions
According to a recent Gartner report, 47% of AI projects do not make it to full production after prototyping. As companies look to derive full-value from AI and learn from their experiences, we would see better integration of Design (to design the AI solution with the user and end-decision in mind) and Engineering (to solve for maintainability, scalability & governance of AI models) with AI projects going forward.
Scaling AI through tools/ accelerators
Increasing AI adoption within enterprises and the ongoing shortage of AI talent are likely to create dual pressure on AI leaders to deliver more AI projects (to generate more value from AI) while keeping the costs down in an increasingly competitive environment. AI leaders will adopt tools/accelerators to complement their teams with the right tools and enable them to do more.
Could 2021 be the year when we witness companies putting an ethical lens to AI and pursuing fairness of decisions over decisions’ accuracy? This year, we saw Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft decided not to sell their facial recognition technologies to law enforcement agencies and even call for national laws governing such technologies. As more enterprises operationalize decisions with AI, I expect many companies to invest in building Responsible AI (reduce model bias, safeguard data privacy, increase transparency) that reflect their organization values and protect their long-term business interests and brand equity.
The next coming years will see a spurt in the deployment of AI applications in almost all industries and into all facets of our daily lives. The only challenge for organizations will be shifting from the pilot to the production phase to explore the full potential of AI and analytics.