Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Half of AI Models Never Make It To Production: Gartner 

The recently released Gartner 2022 AI in Organizations survey found that 80% of executives believe automation can be applied to any business decision. As automation is becoming more vital to business operations, the survey explores how organizations are advancing their use of AI as part of their long-term strategy for automation and estimates the business value of AI will reach $5.1 billion by 2025.

“The survey has shown that enterprises are shifting away from a purely tactical approach to AI and beginning to apply AI more strategically,” said Erick Brethenoux, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner. “For example, a third of organizations are applying AI across several business units, creating a stronger competitive differentiator by supporting decisions across business processes.”

The survey found an average of 54% of AI projects are making the leap from pilot to production, up from 53% as reported in the Gartner 2019 AI in Organizations survey. Though this figure has not significantly increased, the percentage of deployed AI projects has, with the numbers going up from 35% in 2019 to 47% in the latest survey. Gartner attributes this to a more flexible approach to automation, brought on by the pandemic, that allowed for more practical implementation of AI within organizations. For the other 53% of models that are never deployed, scaling operations and proving positive return on investment is where the disconnect lies.

These are the risks organizations must face when scaling AI. Source: Gartner

“Scaling AI continues to be a significant challenge,” said Frances Karamouzis, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner. “Organizations still struggle to connect the algorithms they are building to a business value proposition, which makes it difficult for IT and business leadership to justify the investment it requires to operationalize models.”

One problem for scaling AI is the complex governance needed when deploying numerous AI models, and 40% of surveyed organizations reported having thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, of AI models deployed. More models can create governance challenges that can make demonstrating value and ROI difficult, a difficulty that was seen as a top barrier to AI adoption.

The survey also found less cumbersome barriers to entry, including finding the right talent. Despite other technology fields reporting a talent shortage, Gartner’s survey found that for the organizations surveyed, a dearth of AI talent is not a significant barrier to AI adoption with 72% of executives stating that they already have or can source the needed AI professionals for their projects.

“The most successful organizations use a combination of in-house development and external hiring for AI talent. This ensures that the team renews itself continuously by learning new AI skills and techniques and considering new ideas from outside the organization,” said Brethenoux.

Source: Gartner

Issues regarding security and privacy were also not seen as a top barrier to AI adoption and were cited by just 3% of those surveyed, despite 41% disclosing previous AI privacy breaches or security incidents. Though it is not the most significant barrier, AI security is still a concern, with half of the respondents noting they were worried about competitors, partners, or various third parties gaining access to sensitive information, with 49% also concerned about malicious external attacks. Interestingly, 60% of respondents who have faced an AI security or privacy event reported their data was compromised by an internal party rather than from an outside source.

“Organizations’ AI security concerns are often misplaced, given that most AI breaches are caused by insiders,” said Brethenoux. “While attack detection and prevention are important, AI security efforts should equally focus on minimizing human risk.”

Gartner conducted this survey online from October through December 2021. There were 699 respondents from the U.S., Germany, and the U.K., and they were all from organizations that have already deployed AI or intend to within three years.

Gartner analysts are also discussing the results of this survey at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, taking place in Orlando through August 24.

This story first appeared on sister publication Datanami.

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