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The State of Artificial Intelligence Today

Covid-19 is accelerating the pursuit of AI.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sid Mistry, V.P. of Marketing at Appen about the findings from their The State of the AI and Machine Learning Report 2020. This is the sixth report.

The report highlights increasing C-suite involvement and investment in enterprise AI projects as well as data being a key challenge as AI models get more frequent updates in production. The report also reveals the recent acceleration of AI strategies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Sid, the report reveals that nearly 75 percent of businesses now consider AI critical to their success, and AI continues to grow in importance across companies of various sizes and industries. Yet, almost 50 percent of those who responded to the survey feel their company is behind on their AI journey, suggesting a critical gap exists between the strategic need and the ability to execute.

Many organizations use the internet at the core of their processes, and AI is on a similar journey from fringes to core value offering. Increasing investment in AI projects and greater involvement by the C-suite, along with accelerating enterprise adoption in the wake of Covid-19, are clear indicators that AI is core to business success.

Key Findings

  1. The C-Suite is now far more heavily invested and involved in the development of AI projects. Executive visibility and involvement in AI have skyrocketed over 30 percent year-over-year, with 71 percent of organizations reporting C-suite involvement in AI projects. Additionally, the percentage of companies investing over $5M has doubled versus a year ago. With this level of executive involvement and increased budgets, ethics, governance, and risk management initiatives have become important topics for technologists building AI.

  2. Covid-19 is not slowing AI Investment. Continuing investment in AI shows that businesses are choosing to spend in times of turbulence. Two-thirds of companies do not expect any negative impact on their AI strategies. Nearly 50 percent of companies have accelerated their AI strategies, 20 percent doing so “significantly,” betting their AI projects will have a positive impact on their organization’s resiliency, efficiency, and innovation.

  3. Data remains the key AI challenge. Training data is the key to successful AI, with 3 out of 4 companies updating their models at least quarterly. However, 40 percent of those updating quarterly feel that a lack of data or data management is a challenge.

These findings are consistent with what I’m hearing in the interviews I’ve been doing during the pandemic. While companies are being more cautious with their investment in new initiatives, they are willing to invest in technology that will help them reduce OpEx, improve efficiency, and UX.

Models need to change more frequently because businesses are facing scenarios they’ve never faced before and they are relying on real-time data to help inform decisions with which they have no prior experience making.

The results of this research reiterate that AI is an important element in the digital transformation that companies are striving to make in order to stay relevant post-pandemic.


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