Over 90 pc of businesses expect AI to drive innovation and growth: Microsoft study

13th Aug 2018
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Businesses, especially in developing economies, think AI will not only create more jobs, but will also increase wages. 

A Microsoft study on the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has found that more than one in four business organisations in the developing world have “already incorporated” AI into key processes and services, and nearly half of them have “one or more” AI pilot projects underway. Most businesses expect AI-driven innovation over the next five years to be led by the private sector, Microsoft revealed. 

The study, titled Intelligent Economies: AI’s Transformation of Industries and Society, was conducted in eight markets: France, Germany, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, the UK and the US. Interviews were carried out with over 400 senior executives across industries from financial services, healthcare and life sciences to manufacturing, retail and the public sector.

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Nine out of ten executives from around the world described AI as important to solving their organisations’ strategic challenges.

The study found over 90 percent of businesses expect AI to have a “positive impact on growth”, nearly 86 percent believe it will improve productivity, 84 percent reckon it can drive business innovation, and about 69 percent think it will help in job creation, and generally add to the global economy.

Microsoft’s findings are in line with a 2017 study conducted by consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers. It estimated global GDP to be 14 percent higher by 2030 brought about by widespread AI adoption, thereby adding $15.7 trillion more to the global economy.

Norm Judah, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Services, said:

“AI is already having a transformative impact across every industry. From helping employees at transportation companies predict arrival times or issues that may arise, to predicting toxins in grains of food. It’s helping scientists learn how to treat cancer more effectively and farmers are figuring out how to grow more food using fewer natural resources.”

Despite often-expressed concerns about job displacement, business executives seemed “broadly optimistic” that AI will create new roles, Microsoft revealed. Businesses also think that AI will go on to increase wages.

“Surprisingly, developing economies are significantly more bullish about the positive effects of AI, with 83 percent of them expecting an increase,” Microsoft stated.

The survey found that financial services companies were driving the adoption of virtual assistant adoption. More than 48 percent of them had AI-powered chatbots in operation. They are also using predictive analytics (38 percent) and machine learning (36 percent).

About 41 percent of businesses expect AI-powered innovation to be distributed equally in the private and public sectors. Interestingly, the public sector recorded high levels of machine learning adoption (34 percent). “It is perhaps because of its commitment to make smart cities cleaner and safer and to help municipalities predict levels of traffic, pollution and crime,” Microsoft stated. 

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