AI Adoption Accelerating - But Customers And Employees Have Doubts

AI Adoption Accelerating - But Customers And Employees Have Doubts

Ciarán Daly

January 24, 2019

4 Min Read

NEW YORK - The deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the modern workplace is growing rapidly, new research from Genpact has found. However, the same research also indicates that businesses are yet to grapple with the doubts and reservations of customers and employees about AI.

The second edition of Genpact's research series, 'AI 360: insights from the next frontier of business', comprises qualitative research into the perceptions of three key stakeholder groups - senior executives, employees, and consumers - that are pivotal to the successful widespread adoption of AI in business. By comparing their views today with the 2017 study, a clear picture emerges of the changing perspectives on business AI today - for example:

  • 53 percent of customers say AI is making their lives better - compared with just one-third in 2017

  • 36 percent of workers say AI brings career opportunities - more than the 28 percent who believe it threatens their jobs

One major shift is in the nature of adoption. AI is no longer at the fringes of operations as it was in 2017 - today, AI is being deployed across businesses' core processes, particularly among those who are using AI to fundamentally reimagine their business.

"The data reflects what we're seeing with clients," said NV 'Tiger' Tyagarajan, President and CEO of Genpact. "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 survey findings indicate several clear perception gaps which can reveal potential adoption barriers - but also potential opportunities. These include:

Performance now eclipses cost savings

As adoption increases, business outcomes are maturing. The senior executives surveyed by Genpact report more performance-related results like an increased ability to leverage data, greater collaboration, and improved processes and analytics - while reduced costs and increased revenues are at the bottom of the list of benefits. This contrasts with 2017, when cost savings were cited as the top benefit of AI deployment.

Comfort with robots rising, but management and workers' expectations differ

Whereas only 40 percent of workers in 2017 said they would be comfortable working with robots in three years, nearly two-thirds today agree. However, there is still a long way to go before workers meet the expectations of senior executives, of whom an overwhelming majority (86 percent) believe workers will be comfortable alongside robots by the end of 2021. This expectation gap could pose an issue moving forward.

Confronting AI bias is a challenge for all - but companies' actions remain limited

For consumers, trust, bias, and accountability remain prominent concerns. 78 percent of consumers said that it is important that companies take active measures to prevent AI bias, while a further 67% said companies should account for potential discrimination arising from robot decisionmaking. This could pose an issue for businesses: only one-third of senior executives say their companies have comprehensive governance and internal control framework. Genpact argue that explainable AI and transparency hold the key to allay these fears.

"From the commercial credit standpoint, if we can't explain how the technology works, we're not touching it," said Robert Pompey, senior vice president, regional commercial credit management at TD Bank. "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."

Disconnect between executives and workers around reskilling

One of the most significant findings of the research is that resistance to AI has shifted from the top of the business to the bulk of the workforce. While a mere 15 percent of senior execs note resistance from the C-Suite and management (down from 51% in 2017), opposition from entry-level workers has jumped from 5 percent to 19 percent.

However, an overwhelming majority of workers (80%) are willing to learn new skills to take advantage of the AI opportunity. While this is hopeful, only a third of workers have said their companies offer such reskilling options (35%).

To view the full AI 360 report, click here

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