AI commonplace in business in a decade, say third of firms

Nearly one in three companies (32 percent) believe that business use of artificial intelligence (AI) will be commonplace within the next decade, according to new research from TomTom Telematics, the fleet management and connected transport division of the navigation tech company.

The study also found that 22 percent believe virtual reality will be in common usage, while roughly 20 percent anticipate the prevalence of in-car working, due to the development of autonomous vehicles.

However, almost one-third (32 percent) of respondents fear they may struggle to keep pace with the rate of technological change: the same number forecasting the widespread adoption of AI.

The survey was conducted among 200 company managers (middle management or above).

Battling complacency

Nearly half of all respondents believe organisations that fail to embrace digital transformation and the Internet of Things are at greater risk of going out of business.

“Complacency can sound the death knell for businesses,” said Beverley Wise, director UK & Ireland at TomTom Telematics.

“Companies should be mindful of the pace of change and keep a close eye on the solutions and processes that will help ensure a competitive future – from smart mobility and connected tech to advanced manufacturing and design systems.

“Many of today’s new emerging technologies will disrupt and revolutionise commerce, and in the process become the standard for tomorrow.”

Almost half of companies (46 percent) believe remote working has, or will become, the norm within the next 10 years. Tom Tom’s figures reveal that remote working is currently more prevalent among larger companies (58 percent) than their SME counterparts (37 percent).

“The onus is on businesses, both large and small, to adapt to this new era of hyper-mobility and connected working that is being ushered in by advancements in areas ranging from telematics and the connected car to iPaaS and blockchain solutions,” added Wise.

“Such connected technologies and unified communication systems are unshackling workers from traditional working patterns – an empowering development that is set to significantly impact productivity and business efficiency.”

Internet of Business says

In an era of AI hype – along with recent financials from companies such as Alphabet, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon that stress the importance of cognitive services and the IoT – the only surprise in this survey is that the results are so low when it comes to AI.

After all, one-third believing in the widespread adoption of the technology reveals that two-thirds do not.

This has four possible explanations. The first is that business leaders – at least, middle managers – don’t buy in to the hype around AI and machine learning, even over a timescale as long as a decade.

If so, this chimes with another recent survey, which forecast a prolonged trough after the crest of the AI wave, as many users fail to realise the benefits of their AI deployments, while the countless AI startups begin consolidating into a smaller, more mature, and more conservative market.

The second is that C-level leaders see the technology’s strategic potential, but those lower down the management pecking order haven’t received the same vision from on high – or, as above, don’t accept its validity.

Either way, they will often be the ones who have to make the vision work and drive a demonstrable ROI. Should the results not match the hype, they may be held responsible.

The third explanation is that this is the reality of business deployment of AI and other technologies over the next few years, once the noise and media hysteria have died down.

And fourth, Tom Tom Telematics’ survey respondents are not the most imaginative bunch when it comes to future visions; but whether this suggests pragmatism or ‘not invented here’ syndrome is anyone’s guess.

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