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Global Data from IBM Shows Steady AI Adoption as Organizations Look to Address Skills Shortages, Automate Processes and Encourage Sustainable Operations

New market research commissioned by IBM  revealed that global AI adoption grew steadily over the last year, to 35 percent of those surveyed in 2022, further underscoring that AI growth is poised to accelerate as it continues to mature, becoming more accessible and easier to implement.

Other data points from the “Global AI Adoption Index 2022,” conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM, reveal this growth was due to companies recognizing the value of AI as they emerged from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and invested in their digital transformation, while dealing with talent and skills shortages. In fact, the study shows that AI adoption was up 4 percentage points compared with 2021.

For the first time, the report also polled companies about their plans to use AI in their sustainability initiatives and found that AI is poised to play a significant role. 66% of IT professionals surveyed said that their company is either currently applying AI, or plans to apply AI, to accelerate ESG initiatives.

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Highlights from the “Global AI Adoption Index 2022” include:

  • Global AI adoption is growing steadily, and most companies already use or plan to use AI: Today, 35% of companies reported using AI in their business. Compared with 2021, organizations are 13% more likely to have adopted AI in 2022. Additionally, 42% of companies report they are exploring AI. Large companies are more likely than smaller companies to use AI. Chinese and Indian companies are leading the way, with nearly 60% of IT professionals in those countries saying their organization already actively uses AI, compared with lagging markets like South Korea (22%), Australia (24%) the U.S. (25%), and the U.K. (26%). IT professionals in the financial services, media, energy, automotive, oil, and aerospace industries are most likely to report their company has actively deployed AI, while organizations in industries including retail, travel and government/federal services and healthcare are the least likely.
  • Setting clear data and AI strategies are key for horizontal deployment: A major explanation for gradual AI adoption is the need to implement a successful data management strategy and applying AI to that data achieve business goals. Companies that have not deployed AI are three times as likely to say that they have little to no confidence their company has the proper data management tools. Today, 37% of companies are developing an AI strategy, 28% already have a holistic strategy in place, and 25% have a strategy that is focused only on limited or specific use cases.
  • Automation is helping address skills gaps, labor shortages: More than costs, lack of tools, or project or data complexity, the skills gap remains the biggest barrier to AI adoption. At the same time, AI is also helping organizations address skills shortages, for example by automating tasks for skilled workers so they can be more productive, or by using AI-assisted learning or employee engagement. Almost one-in-four companies are adopting AI because of labor or skills shortages, and 30% of global IT professionals say employees at their organization are already saving time with new AI and automation software/tools.
  • A growing emphasis on trust – but few concrete actions: Establishing trustworthy, responsible AI practices and AI maturity go hand-in-hand: The more likely a company is to have deployed AI, the more likely they are to value the importance of trustworthiness. IT professionals at businesses currently deploying AI are 17% more likely to report that their business values AI explainability than those that are simply exploring AI. But while growing majorities of business leaders say that trustworthy AI is critical, a majority organizations have not taken key steps to ensure their AI is trustworthy and responsible, such as reducing bias (74%), tracking performance variations/model drift (68%), and making sure making sure they can explain AI-powered decisions (61%)
  • Building more sustainable operations: AI is poised to play a growing role in the sustainability initiatives of organizations around the world as more than two-thirds of businesses either use or plan to use AI today as part of their sustainability initiatives. One-in-five companies are already adopting AI because of environmental pressures.
  • Popular use cases like automation, security drive adoption: Organizations are applying AI in a wide variety of use cases today, with the most advanced adoption happening in areas like IT operations, security and threat detection and business process automation. Today, already a third of companies are already using AI for IT Operations (AIOps) to automate key processes, which helps them maintain application performance while also making resource-allocation more efficient. A third of companies deploying AI are applying such as natural language processing to fields like marketing, sales and customer care.

“More than one-third of organizations polled in the IBM Global AI Adoption Index 2022 say they are using AI today to respond to a myriad of different factors and pressures,” said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Software. “They’re looking to AI to help them address skills and labor shortages, respond to competitive pressures and, increasingly to respond to environmental pressures as well. Most respondents said they either are already using or plan to use AI as part of their sustainability initiatives. These trends all point to the growing role that AI is playing both within organizations but also in society.”

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While AI investment continues to grow, barriers to adoption remain, particularly for smaller organizations who are significantly less likely to take advantage of AI. The survey determined top three barriers to AI adoption for businesses are: limited AI expertise or knowledge (34%), high prices (29%)and lack of tools and platforms for developing AI models (25%).

IBM is helping to address these barriers and deliver the benefits of AI to more people and organizations across industries with AI that is human-centered and designed for the needs of businesses. IBM is continually drawing on the latest innovations in AI from IBM Research to deliver new enterprise-ready capabilities, automate technical and manual processes like IT operations and develop new ways to operationalize and help ensure AI ethics are observed. Additionally, IBM Consulting brings deep technology, industry and process design expertise to co-create solutions with customers that embed AI into core business processes and create intelligent workflows at scale.

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