Why companies plan to double AI projects in the next year

Nearly 60% of companies have deployed artificial intelligence and machine learning, according to Gartner.

The next step for machine learning and AI David Karandish, founder and CEO of Jane.ai, discusses the next step for machine learning and AI through chatbots and natural language processing.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning adoption continue to explode across the enterprise, as organizations plan to double the number of AI projects they have in place within the next year, according to Gartner's Survey Analysis: AI and ML Development Strategies, Motivators and Adoption Challenges, released Monday. 

Of the 106 IT and business professionals surveyed, 59% said they have deployed AI already, Gartner found. Organizations currently working with AI or machine learning have an average of four AI projects currently in place, Gartner found. 

SEE: Special report: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Organizations expect to add six more AI and machine learning initiatives to their slates over the next year, and another 15 within the next three years, according to the survey. In other words, by 2022, organizations plan to have an average of 35 AI or machine learning projects in place. 

"We see a substantial acceleration in AI adoption this year," Jim Hare, a research vice president at Gartner, said in a press release. "The rising number of AI projects means that organizations may need to reorganize internally to make sure that AI projects are properly staffed and funded. It is a best practice to establish an AI Center of Excellence to distribute skills, obtain funding, set priorities and share best practices in the best possible way." 

Top AI challenges and motivators

Customer experience (CX) is the top motivator for organizations to adopt AI technologies, the survey found, with 40% of respondents saying so. 

While AI has a number of external uses such as chatbots, the majority of organizations (56%) are currently using the technology internally to support decision making and give recommendations to employees, Gartner noted. Automating tasks—such as invoicing and HR screening—were the second most important type of project, named by 20% of respondents as their top motivator. 

"It is less about replacing human workers and more about augmenting and enabling them to make better decisions faster," Hare said in the release. 

When it comes to AI adoption challenges, IT and business professionals named a lack of skills (56%), understanding AI use cases (42%), and concerns with data scope or quality (34%) as the top pain points. 

"Finding the right staff skills is a major concern whenever advanced technologies are involved," Hare said in the release. "Skill gaps can be addressed using service providers, partnering with universities, and establishing training programs for existing employees. However, establishing a solid data management foundation is not something that you can improvise. Reliable data quality is critical for delivering accurate insights, building trust and reducing bias. Data readiness must be a top concern for all AI projects."

For more, check out Why 85% of AI projects fail on TechRepublic. 

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By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.