Three things to know about artificial intelligence

By Steve Hill

Just a few years ago, many leaders in large organizations were asking if artificial intelligence (AI) could truly support their objectives. But that has rapidly changed.  AI has quickly moved from a technology to watch to a technology to deploy. AI is no longer a far off, futuristic concept and many organizations are already seeing true value.

But what does this actually look like on the ground? We conducted the 2019 Enterprise AI Adoption Study to get a better picture of the state of AI deployment at some of the world’s largest companies. Through in-depth interviews with senior leaders at 30 Global 500 companies and secondary research, we uncovered insights around spending, return on investment, organizational strategy and obstacles. With aggregate revenues of $3 trillion, we believe this group of large, influential organizations is a bellwether for the future of enterprise AI adoption.  

Three key findings from the study:

The 30 large companies in our sample are investing in AI, but some are investing significantly more than others. In our interviews, we found nearly a ten-fold gap in resources devoted to AI between the companies with more mature AI capabilities and the early stage companies. At the high end, the five companies with the most mature AI capabilities have an average of 375 full-time employees working on AI today. We estimate that, on average, each is spending $75 million on salaries for AI talent.

Many companies are already seeing real value from their AI investments. Companies reported seeing 15 percent productivity improvements on their AI projects. Also, successful AI deployment is about much more than technology; it rests on having the right organizational capabilities, governance structures and talent in place. The companies that have already started on the AI journey are experimenting, learning critical lessons and building the right foundation for future success.

AI could fundamentally shift the dynamics of competition. Across the board, the leaders we spoke to believe AI could fundamentally shift the dynamics of competition, and create new winners and losers. The ability to deploy AI for the full range of benefits – across the front, middle and back office – is rare today, but will likely separate a new class of leading companies from the rest in the long run. 

Against this backdrop, an effective AI strategy should look at more than just a few narrow, functional use cases; AI should be part of broader strategic planning and viewed as a competitive differentiator. AI represents a major opportunity for companies to transform their organizations, do business in entirely new ways and unlock new value.

Here are three questions that might be helpful to consider along your AI journey:  

  • Are your AI investments large enough to gain competitive advantage?
  • Is AI deployment a C-level management priority at your organization?
  • What is the right organizational structure for your company to thrive in the age of AI?

Steve Hill is Global Head of Innovation at KPMG. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Melanie Batley.

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Steve Hill

Steve Hill

Principal, Global Head of Innovation, KPMG US

+1 212-909-5659


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Melanie Malluk Batley

Melanie Malluk Batley

Associate Director, Corporate Communications, KPMG US

+1 201-307-8217