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GlobalData says businesses must embrace AI or face extinction

If companies fail to make artificial intelligence (AI) a core competency within the next five years, they will face either stagnation or elimination, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

AI adoption is highest in the banking and financial services, automotive, technology and telecoms verticals while the construction, energy and education industries lag behind. 

The report also identifies the market leaders and notable disruptive start-ups across seven AI technology areas, namely;  machine learning, data science, conversational platforms, computer vision, AI chips, smart robots and context-aware computing.

GlobalData senior analyst Ed Thomas, Senior Analyst says, “Nearly 70 years since Alan Turing posed the question 'Can machines think?', AI is finally beginning to have an impact on the global economy. 

“This technology has the potential to transform how we live and work at an extremely rapid rate and it is already beginning to have an effect across industries, with well-established incumbents increasingly coming up against major disruption from AI platforms developed either by the tech giants (including Amazon, Google and Microsoft) or by AI-focused start-ups.’’

Proponents of AI believe that it has the potential to transform the world as we know it. While this kind of hyperbole may not be entirely helpful it should not obscure the fact that, within five years, AI will be essential to the survival of businesses of all types.

Thomas continued, “Google’s CEO has compared AI to electricity and fire in terms of the impact it will have on the world. Claims of this kind can seem overblown, particularly as the technology in use today often struggles to meet such lofty expectations. 

“However, AI is already having a significant impact on our day-to-day lives and its usage will only increase over the coming years. Companies that don’t embrace AI risk being left behind.”

Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and IBM are the market leaders due to a combination of factors, including access to huge datasets and significant amounts of computing power.

Thomas added, ‘‘AI is still in its infancy and today’s ‘state of the art’ will seem rudimentary within a decade. 

“Consequently, when identifying winners in the AI sector, it is just as important to gauge a company’s ability to innovate over the long-term as it is to evaluate the current state of their AI offerings.’’

The next few years will see massive investment in AI from both the Chinese government and the country’s businesses, boosting the competitive capabilities of the likes of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

Thomas concluded, “The US-headquartered tech giants are currently setting the pace, but they will face increasing competition from Chinese firms like Baidu and Alibaba. Baidu boasts a world-class team of AI specialists, while Alibaba’s progress in AI was highlighted by its recent success on a Stanford University reading comprehension test, where it outscored humans.”

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