Eighty-four percent of large companies around the world say they are using artificial intelligence, and 62% say AI is important to remaining competitive in the year 2020. But only a few are making bold investments in AI or cognitive computing.
Tata Consultancy Services polled 835 executives and IT managers in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and South America at companies that averaged $20 billion in revenues. It found AI to be almost universally important, but the average investment in it was one-third of one percent of revenues, or $67 million. Only 7% said they spent $250 million or more in 2016. The average was $67 million; the median for the whole group, only $3 million.
Even some of the largest companies, however, plan to spend less than average. Fifty-seven percent of the companies with revenues between $20 billion and $50 billion spent less than $20 million on AI in the year 2015.
That may be a mistake. The companies with the greatest revenue and cost improvements in 2015 from their AI initiatives outspent those with the smallest improvements by a factor of five (in terms of spending as a percent of company revenue).
The imbalance in spending on AI is likely to lead to future "competitive imbalance," the report said. "Conservative spending may come to haunt the majority; the companies with the greatest revenue and cost improvements in 2015 from their AI initiatives outspent those with the smallest improvements by a factor of five," the report stated.
"The practice today is one of widespread experimentation but limited transformation," it concluded in the report on the survey, Getting Smarter by the Day: How AI Is Elevating Global Companies. Nevertheless, it noted the widespread collection of data, availability of clustered compute power, whether on premises or in the cloud, and increasingly sophisticated AI and machine learning systems. The combination is "a perfect storm" for a rapid uptake of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing.