Why artificial intelligence no longer scares companies … and employees

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

Feared as a grim reaper for millions of jobs around the world just 10 years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) has seen its perception evolve significantly in recent years. On the contrary, more and more companies are seeing it as a tool to support employees in their daily lives.

With natural language processing, image recognition and machine learning (machine Where deep learning), it seems to be an asset to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks for employees so that they can concentrate on more creative work. And by focusing on activities with higher value added, these employees allow their business to increase productivity.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which pushed companies to accelerate their digital transformation, artificial intelligence had already been heavily democratized. In 2019, Gartner reported that the adoption of AI had tripled over the past year, with 37% of companies using AI technology in one form or another. At the time, this percentage was even higher for telecommunications companies, of which 52% had launched AI-powered chatbots to improve their customer experience and various services.

“We are still far from artificial general intelligence that can fully handle complex tasks, but we have now entered the era of expanded work and scientifically made decisions.then the North American cabinet explained. What we are seeing here is an important step in the transition to the third age of computers, the digital age. “

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Covid-19 has been the major Chief Digital Officer for the past two years.

Alexandra Ruez, VP & Senior Partner, Business Transformation Services Leader at IBM

A new dimension with telework

Gartner analysts did not think so well, because by 2020, the proliferation of Covid-19 to the four corners of the world has brought digital – and all the technologies that come with it – into a new dimension. With teleworking being implemented at full speed during the various incarcerations around the world, companies have had no choice but to equip themselves with new digital solutions to continue their activities. In this context, AI has been particularly popular for putting oil in the wheels, as well as the cloud for facilitating remote work.

Thus, in 2021, a KPMG study highlighted the proliferation of artificial intelligence in all sectors, and especially in financial services and retail. Proof that artificial intelligence was seen as an important lever to overcome this difficult period, 88% of small business executives and 80% of large business leaders, when asked by KPMG, assured that artificial intelligence had been of great help during the health crisis. “Covid-19 has been the major Chief Digital Officer for the past two years. This has forced all sectors to carry out a strong modernization and digitization of their activities.”explains Alexandra Ruez, VP & Senior Partner, Business Transformation Services Leader at IBM.

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Two years after the start of the pandemic, enthusiasm for artificial intelligence has only grown. This is illustrated by an IBM survey conducted by 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 use artificial intelligence in their business and another 42% say they are exploring it, which means that 77% of companies are interested in it from near or far.

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IBM notes that AI is constantly growing with a five-point increase over 2021. An increase that can be attributed in particular to its progress, which makes it more accessible to businesses, up to 43%, and to the need to reduce costs and automate their key processes (42%). Competition (31%), the Covid-19 pandemic (31%) and consumer pressure (25%) are also among the key factors that have driven the adoption of artificial intelligence. “AI is a reality all over the world, in all business formats. Everyone has an AI project. What will now differ is maturity”says Alexandra Ruez.

IBM AI for Business Adoption Study 2022

Data is AI’s fuel.

Alexandra Ruez, VP & Senior Partner, Business Transformation Services Leader at IBM

But for AI to be implemented in a business, it requires one essential element, otherwise it will be completely useless: data. “Data is AI’s fuel. Without data, it’s relatively lowsums up Alexandra Ruez. AI is still far from capable of taking over from you on any topic. It’s a bit like a child. There is a strong potential for intelligence, but it needs to be learned, educated, and that is the role of the whole data. If you do not put something into it, it will not give you anything back. “ In IBM’s report, 63% of IT professionals surveyed say that at least a quarter of their employees need access to business data in order to make decisions. The same goes for artificial intelligence so 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 training solutions To increase employee learning and training, their AI often shows significant gaps. A majority of organizations have not taken important steps to ensure that their AI is credible and accountable, including reducing bias (74%), tracking performance variations / operating the model (68%) and guaranteeing the ability to explain the decisions taken by AI (61%).

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These errors can be attributed to ”A mixture of ignorance and lack of maturityin the eyes of Alexandra Ruez, because these companies are often still in an exploration phase ”. In addition, about 60% of IT professionals in the IBM survey report that the lack of skills and training to develop and manage reliable AI, as well as management and management tools that do not work in all data environments, are barriers to the development of explicable and credible AI .

Chinese and Indian companies at the forefront

In this ecosystem, which still lacks sustainable benchmarks, some countries have excelled in investing heavily. This is especially the case with the United States, which invested twenty times more than Europe between 2012 and 2018 in artificial intelligence and big data, according to data from PitchBook. But surprisingly, it is not in Uncle Sam’s country that the adoption of AI is the strongest in companies.

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IBM’s survey reveals that almost 60% of IT professionals in India (57%) and China (58%) say that their company has actively implemented it as part of their business operations. This percentage drops to 25% in the US, while France reaches 31%. This is slightly less than the world average (34%). The best European student in this field is neither Germany (34%) nor the United Kingdom (26%), but Italy (42%).

IBM AI for Business Adoption Study 2022

Quantum computing, the next step in artificial intelligence

The most mature companies in the field of artificial intelligence should logically be among the first to venture out into quantum computers. “Companies that have already passed the milestone of exploring AI are now in an exploratory phase of quantum computing”, notes IBM’s Alexandra Ruez. And with good reason, the technologies in this innovative sector, which are arousing more and more desire, constitute a particularly powerful lever to multiply an AI’s capacity. Because by multiplying the computing power, it becomes possible to train models on giant learning bases. Algorithms will therefore be able to solve particularly complex problems.

Today, 23% of companies worldwide are working or planning to work on leveraging next-generation quantum technologies, according to a study by the Capgemini Research Center. Among these companies, 43% expect that new quantum technologies will lead to the first commercial applications within three to five years. The companies that hold most of these technologies are developing mainly in telecommunications (41%), aerospace and automotive (36%) and life sciences (30%).

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To date, China (43%) and the Netherlands (42%) are the nations with the largest share of companies working or planning to work on next-generation quantum technologies, far ahead of Germany and the UK (26% each), compared to the global average of 23%. For its part, France (23%), just ahead of the United States (22%) at the moment, adopted a roadmap in January 2021 to position itself among the world leaders in IT. quantum. “The first concrete use cases will arrive in a year or two in Francethinks Alexandra Ruez. Banks and insurance companies are interested in it, and the pharmaceutical and energy sectors have real needs in relation to quantum. What will make the difference is the power of the machines that will be offered. “

IBM is also well placed to know as this US giant has developed a 127-qubit quantum processor. But before they completely shift into the quantum era, other changes could disrupt the digital transformation of companies. “What I see happening is also NFTs and metaverse. It will also move 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.”, assures Alexandra Ruez. In quantum computers, as in the metaverse, the challenge for France and the EU will be not to be left behind by the United States and China, where Gafam and BATX are at the forefront of artificial intelligence.

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