We are entering a new chapter in the adoption of the current generation of AI technologies. How are companies working to manage risk and stay ahead of the pack? 

Article by Beena Ammanath, Susanne Hupfer and David Jarvis*

For the third straight year, Deloitte surveyed executives about their companies’ sentiments and practices regarding AI technologies. We were particularly interested in understanding what it will take to stay ahead of the pack as AI adoption grows—and we wanted to learn how adopters are managing risk around the technologies as AI governance, trust, and ethics become more of a boardroom issue.

By taking the global pulse of AI, we uncovered the following key insights:

  • Adopters continue to have confidence in AI technologies’ ability to drive value and advantage. We see increasing levels of AI technology implementation and financial investment. Adopters say they are realizing competitive advantage and expect AI-powered transformation to happen for both their organization and industry.
  • Early-mover advantage may fade soon. As adoption becomes ubiquitous, AI-powered organizations may have to work harder to maintain an edge over their industry peers. An indicator of a leveling of the playing field: Most adopters expect that AI will soon be integrated into more and more widely available applications.
  • Virtually all adopters are using AI to improve efficiency; mature adopters are also harnessing the technologies to boost differentiation. Using AI for automation and optimization can provide significant benefits, but organizations should work to move beyond these objectives by leveraging AI to create new products and ways of working.
  • AI adopters tend to buy more than they build, and they see having the best AI technology as key to competitive advantage. As options for platforms, solutions, and vendors proliferate and improve, becoming more astute consumers of AI technologies will likely become increasingly important for companies. Being able to integrate and scale those technologies, no matter where they come from, should also be critical.
  • Adopters recognize AI’s risks, but a “preparedness gap” spans strategic, operational, and ethical risks. As usage has grown, so has awareness of the various risks of AI—from unintended bias to determining accountability. What appears to have not grown enough is the adoption of specific actions to help mitigate those risks, even by the most skilled adopters.

By expanding conceptions about what AI can do, becoming better at selecting and evaluating new companies and technologies, and tackling AI risks head-on, current and future AI adopters can position themselves not just to survive but to thrive in the emerging era of pervasive AI.

We are entering a new chapter in the adoption of the current generation of AI technologies: Capabilities are advancing, it is becoming easier to develop and implement AI applications, and companies are seeing tangible benefits from adoption. Governments have developed national strategies for AI and are making substantial investments in research and education. They are also crafting ways to better govern the use of AI technologies to protect and benefit society.

We have seen AI deployed across a wide spectrum of use cases to solve business problems—from managing and automating IT infrastructure, to gleaning new insights about customers, to identifying and responding to cyber threats, to helping guide medical decisions, to improving the hiring process. AI is increasingly being integrated into the fabric of business.

It is true that not everyone has adopted AI technologies yet—there are still barriers, and many are working to scale the benefits. However, it appears that AI’s “early adopter” phase is ending; the market is now moving into the “early majority” chapter of this maturing set of technologies. In fact, IDC forecasts that spending on AI technologies will grow to US$97.9 billion in 2023—more than two and a half times the spending level of 2019.

Read the full report from Deloitte here.

About the author(s)

Beena Ammanath is a managing director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and is an award winning senior executive with extensive global experience in artificial intelligence and digital transformation; Susanne Hupfer is a research manager in Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Deloitte Services LP; David Jarvis is a senior research manager in Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Deloitte Services LP.