IBM recently issued their Global AI Adoption Index 2021 report, and it will come as no surprise to learn that many businesses have been utilizing AI to combat the challenges created by the pandemic. However, the size of the numbers certainly highlights a big swing to implementing AI in a short space of time. The lack of AI skills is cited as one of the major barriers organizations face in implementing the technology as AI can cover everything from the development of the front-end chatbots and virtual assistants to back-end service automation that supports the workflows.
Changing How Businesses Operate
AI is already changing the way businesses operate, from how they communicate with their customers via chatbots or virtual assistants to automating key workflows. Momentum is shifting as the need for AI has been accelerated by changing business needs due to COVID-19, with the report suggesting that 43% of businesses accelerated rollout of AI as a result of the pandemic. The report also suggests that many businesses are still planning significant investments in AI for the future. This need is driven by the multiple pressures and opportunities businesses are facing, from the pandemic to advances in AI technology that are making it more affordable and accessible. Eighty percent of companies are already using automation software or plan to use it in the next 12 months, and for more than a third, the pandemic influenced their decision.
Natural Language Processing
Of those already using the technology almost half are using applications powered by natural language processing (NLP), with a quarter of businesses planning to use it in the next 12 months. Customer service is the department most likely to adopt NLP, with over half of the organizations reporting that their company is using or considering using NLP solutions to improve customer experience. Customer services was also the area that had received the most focus for use of AI as a result of the pandemic. With people unable to get out they needed to interact with brands online, often 24/7. It was only through the use of chatbots and virtual assistants that many organizations were able to provide the necessary level of customer support.
"As organizations move to a post-pandemic world, data from the Global AI Adoption Index 2021 underscores a major uptick in AI investment,” said Rob Thomas, Senior Vice President, IBM Cloud and Data Platform. “A large majority of those investments continue to be focused on the three key capabilities that define AI for business - automating IT and processes, building trust in AI outcomes, and understanding the language of business.”
Barriers Still Exist
Whilst the report suggests that many businesses are keen to move forward with investment in AI, it also highlighted some of the barriers that IT professionals see as hindrance to implementing AI. These were lack of AI expertise, data complexity and data silos, and lack of tools or platforms for developing AI.
To enable AI development in the short term, organizations are going to be looking to external third parties to provide the expertise to implement AI. If these vendors can also offer industry-specific versions that short-cut development time that can help overcome these barriers, even for smaller businesses.
If you are ready to move your business forward with a customer service automation platform, contact us or call us on 0333 6000 360 to find out more.