Artificial Intelligence

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AI Spreads Beyond IT to Other Functions

AI has taken hold in IT more than in any other function. Close to 68% of companies are using AI in the IT function. That is more than twice the percentage (32%) of the next most frequent functionality of AI: customer service.

In the IT function, most often, companies are using AI to detect and deter security intrusions into their networks. There is little unanimity about where AI will have the greatest beneficial impact by 2020. The IT function was selected more often than any other function, but only by 30%. Sales (chosen by 12%), customer service (11%) and marketing (9%) came next.

The companies with the greatest revenue and cost improvements from AI in our sample are the ‘leaders’, while the ‘followers’ are firms with the smallest revenue and cost improvements. Leaders outspent followers by a factor of five (in terms of spending as a percent of company revenue).

More leaders than followers see AI as crucial to their competitiveness, and are likely to use the technology at the corporate level.

A higher proportion of leaders use AI in distribution and logistics, HR, and finance and accounting than followers do.

Leaders are likely to believe that the IT function, more than any other function, will be the biggest beneficiary of AI by the year 2020.


Making big AI investments because they see them as vital to remaining competitive.

Focusing on areas that immediately affect their ability to make or lose one.

Addressing fears of massive job losses

Applying AI across their organization.

Using AI in the IT department



  • AI strategy and leadership from the top of the company is critical to attaining value from AI.
  • Invent the Chief Human Resource officer role to manage humans and supervise AI.
  • Adapt learning and training to fully exploit the combination of human and machine intelligence.
  • Appoint a chief data supply officer to construct an integrated, end-to-end data supply chain.


  • Create an open AI culture to cultivate trust, openness and transparency that supports human and machine relationships.
  • Step beyond automation strategies to use self-learning and self-governing machines for competitive advantage.
  • Combine crowd sourced data in the cloud with AI capabilities to create new and disruptive business opportunities.
  • Build new financial metrics to properly assess the “Return on AI”.