AI adoption speeding up, but customer and employee doubts persist
AI adoption is accelerating, says Genpact, a global professional services firm that focuses on delivering digital transformation. However, employee and customer doubts, which persist, can undermine AI’s benefits. We must address people’s misgivings.
Genpact has just released its latest report – AI 360: insights from the next frontier of business. The authors analyzed perceptions in three different groups of people – consumers, employees, and senior executives.
For the AI adoption to become widespread and successful, it is important that these three groups embrace AI and its benefits.
Progress since 2017
However, since the inaugural 2017 study, there has been ‘remarkable progress,’ the authors informed. The majority of consumers (53%), for example, say that AI is improving their lives. In 2017, just one-third of consumers felt this way.
Thirty-six percent of workers today believe AI brings career opportunities while 28% see it as a threat to their jobs.
“One of the most important shifts is the nature of adoption, with companies moving from using AI at the fringe of their operations in 2017 to now starting to deploy it in their core processes, especially among the visionaries (executives who say their companies are using AI to fundamentally reimagine their business).”
AI adoption at an inflection point
NV ‘Tiger’ Tyagarajan, President and CEO of Genpact, said:
“The data reflects what we’re seeing with clients. There’s no question that businesses are at an inflection point with their use of AI. The visionaries are beginning to embed AI as the neural wiring for their enterprises.”
“To achieve greater impact, we must change the narrative about lingering concerns. It is critical to educate both employees and customers about AI’s potential, and enable them with tools to take advantage of its benefits.”
The authors detected several clear perception gaps among employees and consumers that reveal potential barriers to adoption. However, they also provide an opportunity for companies that can spot the signals to act accordingly.
Below is a list of the study’s main findings:
Performance currently eclipsing cost savings
With the rapid growth of AI adoption, business outcomes are now maturing. Company executives are reporting more performance-related results, such as greater collaboration and increased ability to leverage data. They are also reporting improved processes and analytics.
In 2017, cost savings was the most cited benefit. In this study, on the other hand, increased revenues and lower costs came last out of nine potential benefits.
Less apprehension regarding working with robots
Almost two-thirds of employees say that in three years they will be comfortable working with robots. In 2017, only forty percent thought that way.
However, upper management expects more enthusiasm from the workforce. Eighty-six percent of senior executive believes their workforce will be comfortable with robots by the end of 2021.
There is an expectation gap that employers must address when managing their digital workforce.
Confronting AI bias is a challenge
For companies that are insightful enough to notice, consumer doubts send a clear signal. Seventy-eight percent of consumers say companies must take active measures to prevent AI bias. Sixty-seven percent of consumers fear discrimination when robots make decisions.
According to Genpact:
“While most businesses are addressing AI bias in some way, only a third of senior executives say their companies have comprehensive governance and internal control frameworks. Explainable AI and transparency are key to allay consumers’ fears.”
Robert Pompey, Senior Vice President, Regional Commercial Credit Management at TD Bank, said:
“From the commercial credit management standpoint, if we can’t explain how the technology works, we’re not touching it. It’s critical that we understand the algorithms before we implement them. We need a clear picture of how they operate.”
“Then we have to be able to communicate that information to our employees to ensure they’re being transparent with our customers too.”
Privacy matters, but consumers more willing to share data
Privacy remains a major concern. However, if consumers see benefits, they are willing to share data.
Fifty-four percent of consumers are willing to let companies use AI to access their personal data. However, only if it improves their customer experience. In 2017, only 30% felt that way.
Resistance has shifted
Interestingly, resistance against AI has moved from the corner office to the operations floor. Just 15% of senior executives reported resistance from the top, compared to 51% in 2017. ‘The top,’ in this context, refers to C-suite, board, or upper management.
However, senior executives reported more opposition from entry-level employees – from 5% in 2017 to 19% now.
“The good news is that an overwhelming majority of workers (80 percent) are willing to learn new skills to take advantage of AI. Yet while more senior executives say their companies provide reskilling opportunities (53 percent, up from 38 percent in 2017), a disconnect remains with workers’ experiences.”
“Just over a third of workers (35 percent) say their companies offer reskilling options, and less than a quarter say they have participated in such training.”
What is AI?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. It includes software technologies that make devices think and behave like us (humans). They also make them behave like us.
AI, like a human, can learn along the way, i.e., while it is performing tasks. AI experts refer to it as ‘machine learning.’
Some AI experts say that it is only artificial intelligence if it can perform at least as well as a human. ‘Perform,’ in this context, refers to our computational speed, accuracy, and capacity.