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SAP Survey Finds AI Divide Among Business Leaders

Monday Jul 2nd 2018 by Mike Vizard

Investments in AI by vertical industry are uneven at best. SAP is seeing a lot of activity in financial services and retail.

A survey of 2,500 C-Level executives conducted by SAP finds more than half (52 percent) say they have implemented some form of “active intelligence” that includes a surprisingly large amount of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The survey finds 32 percent of businesses have either already implemented or plan to implement AI in the next year, with another 25 percent planning to investing in next year.

The same survey, however, finds 47 percent of respondents view AI as nothing but a tech buzzword that their successor will be better placed to address. Almost half of business leaders (49 percent) think active intelligence projects are often undertaken in their business without having a link to their overarching business strategy.

Overall, the survey finds 30 percent of executives plan on investing between $500,000 and $5 million on active intelligence technologies in the next year, and 30 percent say the most important factor in becoming an intelligent enterprise is having the right processes, attitudes and behaviors.

SAP generally refers to active intelligence as investments in business process integration connecting diverse applications using application programming interfaces (APIs). SAP is now making a case for extending the reach and scope of those efforts using machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics that will increasingly be embedded with the SAP applications, the SAP HANA database and the SAP Cloud Platform.

Ivo Totev, chief marketing officer for SAP ERP Cloud, says that while it’s not clear exactly where the industry is in terms of the hype cycle as it applies to AI, there is a definite shift underway toward constructing intelligent enterprises where applications and processes are interconnected to near real time.

Nevertheless, Totev says SAP is surprised by the level of investment in AI already occurring.

“We thought there would be more talking than doing,” says Totev.

Of course, investments in AI by vertical industry are uneven at best. SAP is seeing a lot of activity in financial services and retail, says Totev.

Whatever the outcome, the one thing that is clear is that AI is on the cusp of becoming mainstream in the enterprise. Less clear is where exactly the impact of those investments will manifest first.

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