While 2020 presented businesses with unprecedented challenges, it also had the added effect of speeding up the timeline of adoption for many technological innovations. For example, a recent PwC survey found that a quarter of organizations reported significant AI adoption at an increase of over seven percent from 2019.

The pandemic has indeed been the driving force behind many next-generation AI projects. Fifty-eight percent of organizations report investing heavily in workforce planning, while supply chain resilience and demand projection also factored prominently at 48 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

Curious about how you can reap better ROI from your AI investments? Read on for three key practices to maximize your initiatives:

  1. Focus on Strategic Initiatives: AI is often associated with projects to increase productivity and drive down costs. Yet the PwC survey suggests these initiatives don’t always deliver and, as such, AI leaders are increasingly applying the technology to more strategic areas. For example, nearly 67 percent of respondents indicated that AI that was invested in driving better customer experiences met their expectations. By contrast, only 50 percent said the same for their cost savings initiatives. 
  2. Deploy AI/ML Models in Production: AI leaders have moved beyond experimental usage of analytics/AI models to a more mature approach, integrating these models into the organization’s broader application and technology infrastructure. In addition, companies are increasingly embedding continuous learning (CL) AI/ML models into their software. This enables them to react faster to changing conditions—a critical capability when the pandemic first hit, and something that will continue to be important as organizations navigate a return to normal operations.
  3. Adopt an Integrated AI Delivery Model: Realizing good ROI on AI initiatives isn’t the sole responsibility of one department or individual. Organizations need an integrated approach across a number of disciplines, including IT, automation, data science, and operations. To address this, PwC found that nearly 23 percent of companies have set up an AI Center of Excellence (COE) to share and coordinate AI resources across the company. An additional 19 percent have appointed an AI leader who oversees the technology’s strategy and governance across the organization.

If you’re like many organizations, it’s possible you may already have established COE’s for analytics, automation, or a related technology. Integrating these separate initiatives, or, at the very least, ensuring that you’ve coordinated them, is extremely important for deriving the greatest value from your AI deployments. Increased AI adoption is a small but important silver lining to emerge from 2020’s business disruptions.

For more on what you can do to make the most of the technology’s full potential, check out this InformationWeek article.