The Reality Of Artificial Intelligence In Business


Business leaders now face a new set of challenges: understanding the risks of what A.I. is capable of, as well as its full potential for value creation.

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) in business has grown in popularity over recent years. But, the shift in conversation is no longer about how artificial intelligence creates business value. It’s now about how to do so in a responsible and ethical way. Given the potential of A.I. for value creation, disruption, and destruction, businesses must now understand how to manage the technology responsibly.

As executive decision-makers determine their organisations’ A.I. strategies, they must consider whether their organisation has the capability to be an early adopter or if it would be better off acting as a fast follower. These decisions could mean the difference between profit and loss.

Many questions remain to be answered as technology enters a new era. For example: What are the implications of AI for business and society? Is a universal ethic for A.I. desirable and feasible? What is the role of government in enabling access to and return from A.I.?

The World Economic Forum took a holistic approach to answer these questions in their AI C-Suite Toolkit, which has been developed based on insights from industry and academic experts. Their toolkit aims to help executives guide their organisations to take advantage of AI responsibly.

The Future of A.I.

When most people ponder artificial intelligence, they imagine a robot that can complete their mundane tasks and maybe even stop to have a chat. Of course, something like this could be in the works, but the most lucrative use cases for A.I. are a bit different.

According to market intelligence firm Tractica, the top three use cases for A.I. until 2025 are static image recognition, classification and tagging; algorithmic trading strategy performance improvement; and efficient, scalable processing of patient data. These three uses will reportedly generate 8 billion U.S. dollars in cumulative revenue between them by 2025. While we may not yet have our dream robot, artificial intelligence is still set for a prosperous future ahead of it!

The Future of A.I. - Forecasted cumulative global artificial intelligence revenue 2016-2025

A forecast of the most lucrative use cases of AI until 2025

A.I. & Businesses; Go With Consideration

A.I. has the potential to create great value for businesses and society. But with power comes responsibility, and A.I. is no exception.

The automatic decision-making capabilities of AI-enabled systems can lead to a number of new risks. Namely privacy infringement and potential discrimination. For example, if similar customers are treated differently by an A.I. system, it could lead to a discriminatory effect. There also may be new safety and security risks.

Executives also need to understand how their organisations can adopt A.I. responsibly. If the new risks that come from A.I. are not managed effectively, then “successful” adoption of the technology may actually prove costly in the long term. Success with A.I. is both about value creation and managing different types of risk for the business.

Executives will want to look at questions such as: What are the new risks that A.I. creates for my business? How can we best manage these risks? And what is the role of A.I. governance?

What Do We Make of It?

If you asked a room full of executives about A.I., most would say it’s overhyped. And yet, the same companies are investing in building A.I. capabilities and adopting solutions. The reason for this seeming contradiction can be explained by the fact that A.I. has been in development for more than half a century. This is how long it takes for major technological innovations to reach critical mass in terms of adoption and real impact. It’s only in the past few years that we have started seeing A.I. transform businesses and society.

We are only just starting to understand some of the positive and negative impacts of A.I. Responsible artificial intelligence innovation and adoption are not yet a given. C-suite executives must play a critical role in achieving this and need to understand multiple aspects and ask very diverse questions.