The people building artificial intelligence are the ones who need AI the most

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There are many interesting use cases for artificial intelligence, from drug discovery to autonomous vehicles. But the people who see the greatest benefits of AI technology to date are the technicians themselves — automating their work and providing quality assurance, faster application development, large network optimization and the elimination of manual task work.

That’s the word from a recent survey of 7,502 IT executives and professionals worldwide commissioned by IBM’s Watson Group. Overall, 35% of companies now report using AI in their business — up from 31% a year ago, with an additional 42% exploring the technology. It’s being implemented through off-the-shelf solutions like virtual assistants, as well as being embedded into existing business operations — especially IT processes.

The irony, of course, is that the people charged with building AI-driven applications and systems — the IT team — need AI the most to support their efforts. This is not entirely surprising, as AI development and implementation make things more complex, requiring greater levels of automation.

About half of organizations see the benefits of using AI to automate IT, business or network processes, including cost savings and efficiency (54%), IT or network performance (53%) and better customer experience (48%).

Another 30% of IT professionals say their organization’s employees are saving time with new AI and automation software and tools, especially in areas like IT — where there is a skills shortage. AI is helping organizations close the skills gap, for example, by automating tasks for skilled workers or using AI-assisted learning or employee engagement.

The most advanced AI adoption is occurring in areas such as IT operations, security and threat detection, and business process automation. A third of companies are already using AI to automate their IT processes — AIOps — which helps maintain application performance and makes resource allocation more efficient. The majority of IT professionals in large companies are using it to increase efficiency in IT operations (ITOps) (54%), compared to only 40% in smaller companies.

Use cases for AI include:

  • Automated IT Operations 32%
  • Automated IT or software asset management 32%
  • Activity Monitoring 29%
  • Automated customer service experience 28%
  • Automated business workflows 27%
  • Real-time inventory management 26%
  • 5G services 25%
  • Supply chain efficiency and flexibility 24%

The leading barriers to successful AI adoption for businesses include limited AI skills, expertise or knowledge (34%), cost is too high (29%), lack of tools or platforms to develop models (25%), projects are too complex or too complex to integrate and scale. Difficult (24%), and too much data complexity (24%).

AI transparency is also a concern. Four out of five respondents said they were able to explain how their AI arrived at a decision important to their business. Actions currently being taken by IT professionals include protecting data privacy as they step up to ensure their AI is reliable and accountable. The majority of IT professionals report that their company is drawing from more than 20 different data sources to inform their AI, BI and analytics systems.

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