Five Business Myths of Artificial Intelligence

    

Today, artificial intelligence is quickly rising to the top of most companies “must have” tech list.  IDC, a research firm, predicts by 2021, enterprises will spend $52.2 billion annually on AI-related products and services, achieving significant gains from these investments.

Articles and books about the impact of AI have inundated the market as advanced technologies have transitioned from academia to business applications.  Scenarios, beliefs, and promises discussed run the gamut from the elimination of employment to providing instant answers. The information available can contain misleading insights creating confusion for business leaders seeking the truth.

To help you separate fact from fiction, let’s review the five common business-related artificial intelligence myths.

1.  Artificial Intelligence Will Replace Jobs and Humans

False.  According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 133 million jobs globally will be created due to advanced technologies within the next ten years, compared with an estimated 75 million jobs eliminated.  As we enter the Fourth Phase of the Industrial Revolution, imagining these new careers and jobs is difficult as these positions have yet to be created.

Artificial intelligence is designed to remove redundant low-level tasks, enabling humans to make smarter decisions and focus on higher cognitive tasks and problem-solving. Similar to previous technological advancements, throughout history, employment will evolve to match the technology tool available.

2.  Everyone is Using Real Artificial Intelligence 

False. In a rush to add artificial intelligence and machine learning to business processes, companies design and built in-house systems using open source libraries. As a result, enterprises have spent millions of dollars to incorporate AI into their systems. However, the reality is that many of these in-house AI projects were shelved or failed to move pass the “Proof of Concept” (POC) stage.  

Teams operating at the PoC stage that work with limited machine learning algorithms, spread across the company’s business processes, offer little benefit.  When the teams have moved past the POC stage, they tend to rely on simple statistical methods requiring significant human intervention to make a single decision.  As a consequence, problems occur which generate insufficient results that frustrate company leaders who believe these POC solutions are real artificial intelligence.

3. Artificial Intelligence is for the Elite Tech Companies Only 

False.  Another common myth is only top elite companies and research colleges have access to artificial intelligence. Media attention given to Google, IBM, Amazon, and Facebook reinforces the belief that AI is out of reach for most companies and requires high quality data and cutting-edge systems.

Furthermore, a subset of this belief is that there are only a few global experts who work with companies to design and implement AI-powered solutions which strengthens the illusion that only elite companies have access to the technology. However, in the past five years, rapid advancement has occurred in the development of AI-powered solutions allowing more companies to have access to artificial intelligence business capabilities.     

4. Artificial Intelligence is Time Consuming and Expensive

False.  Consistent with the belief that artificial intelligence is reserved for elite tech companies, another common misconception is the high investment in time, money and resources to infuse AI-powered solutions into existing business processes.  For most companies, the investment to embed AI into existing systems is considerably less than designing, building, and implementing a new system end-to-end. 

Today, newer systems have the foundation, relevant data, and computing capabilities to work seamlessly with artificial intelligence solutions. If not, upgrading existing systems is still less resource-intensive than starting from scratch. As artificial intelligence is adapted for real-world business applications, the overall investment will continue to decrease.

5. Developing an Artificial Intelligence Business Strategy Can Wait 

False.  For businesses considering a wait and see approach, think again. According to a 2018 Forbes Insights Report, 70% of the C-level executives indicated that their Board of Directors are strongly urging greater use of AI. Second, the global markets have decided that artificial intelligence is an essential requirement for the digital economy.  Companies using artificial intelligence report positive business results, such as improved forecasting accuracy and supply chain efficiencies.  Choosing to wait and see places the company at risk and a competitive disadvantage.

Conclusion

Andrew Ng, a Stanford professor, coined the phrase “AI is the new electricity”, believing the technology has the power to fundamentally transform every aspect of our global economy.  For today’s business leaders, understanding the potential benefits and limitations of artificial intelligence, and which scenarios are correct and which beliefs are myths, is crucial to staying relevant and competitive.

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