Overcoming cultural fears remains top challenge with AI adoption

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The adoption of artificial intelligence tools is rapidly growing in the workplace. But to take full advantage of AI’s opportunities, businesses must understand and overcome lingering doubts from their customers and employees.

That is one of the key findings in new research from professional services firm Genpact. For its study, Genpact commissioned Wakefield Research to survey 500 C-level and other senior executives in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan, in November and December 2018. Wakefield also conducted an online survey of 4,000 consumers in the same countries.

One of the most important shifts over the past year is the nature of adoption, with companies moving from using AI at the fringe of their operations in 2017 to starting to deploy it in their core processes.

With AI adoption increasing, business outcomes are maturing, the report said. Senior executives report more performance-related results such as an increased ability to leverage data, greater collaboration, and improved processes and analytics.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers said they will be comfortable working with robots in three years. But senior executives expect more enthusiasm from their employees, with a large majority of the executives (86 percent) think workers will be comfortable with robot colleagues by the end of 2021.

Consumer doubts about AI send a clear signal to businesses, the study said. Among their top concerns are AI bias (78 percent of consumers say it is important that companies take active measures to prevent it), and potential discrimination when robots make decisions (cited by 67 percent).

While most businesses are addressing AI bias in some way, only one third of senior executives said their companies have comprehensive governance and internal control frameworks. Explainable AI and transparency are key to allay consumers’ fears, the report said.

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