According to new IBM research, released Thursday, more than 73% of CEOs predict that cognitive computing, or artificial intelligence (AI), technologies will play a “key role” in their business’s future. The press release announcing the findings also noted that more than 50% of these CEOs plan to adopt these technologies by the year 2019.

In terms of where AI will prove most impactful, respondents listed information technology, sales, and information security as the top three priorities for the technology. The 6,000 CEOs surveyed also said they expect a 15% return on their AI investments.

In regards to IT, cognitive solutions can improve software development and testing, lead to better efficiency and agility, and boost solution design the release said. Sales professionals get access to better data for lead management, and can be more efficient in their account management. Cognitive computing could also speed threat and fraud detection and free up employees, the release said.

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IBM is known for its cognitive computing solution, Watson, which famously won the TV game show Jeopardy. While IBM has distanced itself from the term “AI” in its use of “cognitive computing,” the technologies accomplish many of the same goals.

As part of the study, IBM also gave specific recommendations on how business could use AI or cognitive computing to power their digital transformation efforts. For starters, planning is essential. IBM recommends outlining an 18-to-24-month strategy for adopting these technologies.

“Define enterprise or business unit reinvention case, KPIs, and targets. Apply a targeted operating model and governance that support this strategy,” the press release said.

Next up is the ideation stage. Periodically, businesses should assess the market and how certain users are responding. Experiment with these technologies to develop best practices and common use cases, the report said. Be sure to tailor your standards to your own organization.

After that, users should incubate and scale their ideas, as well as working on new prototypes to address specific business problems.

“Design and execute pilots with agility and limited risk to existing customers and operations. When these concepts are incubated, commercialized, and scaled, use a lean governance model to periodically review progress and value. Monitor the business case value realization and make adjustments, as necessary,” the release said.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A new IBM research report claims that 73% of CEOs predict cognitive computing will play a “key role” in the future of their business.
  2. The report also said that more than 50% of CEOs plan to adopt the technology by 2019, and they expect a 15% return on their investment.
  3. IBM recommends outlining a plan for adoption of these technologies, before ideating, incubating, and scaling your solutions.