Why artificial intelligence no longer scares companies… and employees

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The adoption of artificial intelligence in companies has accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But has the image of Epinal around this technology, close to a science fiction film, really disappeared?

Just 10 years ago, artificial intelligence (AI), feared as the grim reaper for millions of jobs around the world, has changed significantly in recent years. On the contrary, more and more companies are considering it as a tool to support employees in their daily lives.

With Natural Language Processing, Image Recognition and Machine Learning (the car Where deep learning) seems to be an asset for automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks for employees so they can focus on more creative work. And by focusing on higher value-added activities, these employees enable their company to increase productivity.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic pushed companies to accelerate digital transformation, artificial intelligence was already largely democratized. Gartner reported in 2019 that AI adoption has tripled in the past year, with 37% of companies using AI technology in some form. At the time, this percentage was even higher for telcos, 52% of which launched AI-enabled chatbots to improve customer experience and various services.

“We are still a long way from general purpose artificial intelligence capable of fully taking on complex tasks, but now we have entered the era of augmented work and scientifically made decisions.then explained the North American Cabinet. What we see here is an important step towards the third age of computing, the digital age.”

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Covid-19 has been a great CIO over the past two years.

Alexandra Ruez, Vice President and Senior Partner, Head of Business Transformation Services at IBM

A new dimension with remote work

Gartner analysts didn’t think so well because in 2020, the spread of Covid-19 to the four corners of the world brought digital technology and all the technologies that flow from it into a new dimension. With remote work deployed at full speed during various lockdowns around the world, companies had no choice but to equip themselves with new digital solutions to continue their operations. In this context, artificial intelligence has been particularly popular for “greasing the wheels” as well as the “cloud” for facilitating remote work.

Thus, in 2021, KPMG research showed that the adoption of artificial intelligence has accelerated in all sectors, especially in financial services and retail. Evidence that AI was seen as a key lever to get through this difficult period is that 88% of small business executives and 80% of large company executives surveyed by KPMG said AI had been a big help during the health crisis. “Covid-19 has been a great CIO over the past two years. This forced all industries to carry out a powerful modernization and digitalization of their activities.”explains Alexandra Ruez, Vice President and Senior Partner, Head of Business Transformation at IBM.

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Two years after the start of the pandemic, the enthusiasm for artificial intelligence has only grown. This is evidenced by an IBM study conducted in conjunction with Morning Consult from March 30 to April 12, 2022, with a sample of more than 7,500 business decision makers around the world. It shows that 35% of companies say they are using AI in their business and another 42% say they are looking into it, meaning that 77% of companies are interested in it both close and far.

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As such, IBM notes that AI is steadily growing with a five-point increase over 2021. The increase is due, in part, to its progress, which makes it more affordable for companies, up to 43%, as well as the need to cut costs and automate their key processes (42%). Competition (31%), the Covid-19 pandemic (31%) and consumer pressure (25%) are also some of the main factors that have driven the adoption of AI. “AI is a reality all over the world, in all business formats. Everyone has an AI project. Now what will be different is maturity.”Alexandra Ruez says

Data is the fuel for AI.

Alexandra Ruez, Vice President and Senior Partner, Head of Business Transformation Services at IBM

But in order for AI to be deployed internally, it needs an important element, otherwise it will be completely useless: data. “Data is the fuel for AI. Without data, this is relatively low.summarizes Alexandra Ruez. The AI ​​is still far from beating you in any subject. It’s a bit like a child. Intelligence has great potential, but it needs to be studied, educated, and this is the whole role of data. If you don’t put anything into it, it won’t give you anything back.” According to an IBM report, 63% of IT professionals surveyed say that at least a quarter of their employees need access to business data to make decisions. The same goes for artificial intelligence so that it can support employees.

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While just under two-thirds (66%) of IT professionals surveyed by IBM say their organization uses automation tools to reduce manual or repetitive tasks, half (50%) say their organization uses AI-based educational solutions to improve the level of education and training of employees. their AI often shows significant gaps. Most organizations have not taken key steps to ensure their AI is reliable and accountable, including reducing bias (74%), tracking changes in performance/model drift (68%), and ensuring that AI decisions can be explained (61%).

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These errors are related to “a mixture of ignorance and lack of maturityin the eyes of Alexandra Ruez, because these companies are often still in the exploratory phase.”. In addition, about 60% of IT professionals report in an IBM study that a lack of skills and training to develop and manage robust AI, as well as leadership and management tools that do not work in all data environments, are barriers to developing understandable and trustworthy AI. AI.

Chinese and Indian companies lead

In this ecosystem, which still lacks sustainable benchmarks, some countries have distinguished themselves by large investments. This is especially true of the US, which between 2012 and 2018 invested twenty times more in artificial intelligence than Europe. large amount of data, according to PitchBook. But surprisingly, it’s not in Uncle Sam’s country that AI adoption is strongest in companies.

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An IBM study shows that almost 60% of IT professionals in India (57%) and China (58%) say their companies are actively implementing it as part of their business operations. This percentage drops to 25% in the US and reaches 31% in France. This is slightly less than the world average (34%). The best European student in this area is not Germany (34%), nor the UK (26%), but Italy (42%).

IBM AI for Business AI Adoption Research 2022

Quantum computing, the next step in artificial intelligence

Logically, the most mature AI companies should be among the first to venture into quantum computing. “Companies that have already passed the AI ​​learning phase are now in the quantum computing research phase.”, says Alexandra Ruez of IBM. And it’s not for nothing that technologies in this increasingly desirable sector of innovation represent a particularly powerful lever to increase the power of AI. Because by multiplying the computing power, it will be possible to train models on giant training bases. Consequently, algorithms will be able to solve particularly complex problems.

According to a study by the Capgemini Research Center, today 23% of companies worldwide are working or plan to work on the use of next-generation quantum technologies. Among these firms, 43% expect new quantum technologies to lead to first commercial use within three to five years. Companies that are most passionate about these technologies are developing mainly in telecommunications (41%), aerospace and automotive industries (36%), and life sciences (30%).

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To date, China (43%) and the Netherlands (42%) are the countries with the largest share of companies working or planning to work on next-generation quantum technologies, well ahead of Germany and the UK (26% each). to the global average of 23%. For its part, France (23%), currently ahead of the US (22%), adopted a roadmap in January 2021 to rank among the world leaders in IT. “The first concrete use cases will appear within a year or two in France.says Alexandra Ryuz. Banks and insurance companies are interested in it, and the pharmaceutical and energy sectors have a real need for quanta. What will matter is the power of the machines that will be offered.”

IBM is also well aware as this American giant has developed a 127 qubit quantum processor. But before moving fully into the quantum era, other changes could disrupt the digital transformation of companies. “What I see is also the NFT and the metaverse. It will also change the market a lot because through these virtual worlds we will be able to offer new products, new services and maybe even change consumption patterns.”, says Alexandra Ruez. In quantum computing, as in the metaverse, the challenge for France and the EU will be to once again not be left behind the US and China, where Gafam and BATX lead the way in artificial intelligence.

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