Research Report - Critical mass: Managing AI’s unstoppable progress

Posted by Accenture on Sep 19, 2018 1:44:58 PM


  • We’re on the verge of a critical mass moment in artificial intelligence. Across every industry, organizations are encountering real success with AI on multiple fronts.
  • Organizations that have successfully deployed AI recognize the strong connection between AI and analytics. They also understand that as AI becomes more pervasive, it must be responsible.
  • The big challenge from now on? Managing AI’s unstoppable progress—personally, culturally, societally, and within businesses, governments and other organizations—to get more value, while keeping risks in check.

These findings are based on a global survey of business leaders, commissioned by Accenture Applied Intelligence, Intel and SAS, conducted by Forbes Insights. Our research shows just how widely AI’s being used by organizations globally.

The vast majority of organizations now use AI in one or more business areas. And they’re realizing real benefits—from more accurate forecasting and enhanced decision-making to greater success in customer acquisition and increased productivity.

But there’s a clear gap between what the most successful AI adopters are doing and other organizations. AI leaders stand apart in their application of related functions and processes in areas like analytics, and responsible and ethical AI deployment and oversight.


"Organizations must move beyonddirectional AI ethics codes … they need to provide prescriptive, specific and technical guidelines to develop AI systems that are secure, transparent, explainable, and accountable." 

– RUMMAN CHOWDHURY, Responsible AI Lead, Accenture Applied Intelligence

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Ethical AI, along with education and transparency, is key to building trust in this technology.

That’s a high priority. We found many executives are concerned about their employees’ lack of trust in AI, especially where its impact on their jobs is concerned.

With AI still on a journey to achieving its full impact, now’s the time to build guardrails that will help us all to manage its enormous potential and build trust. Our report highlights current best practices in AI deployment that must inform this process.

It also shows that standing still is not an option. The question organizations should be asking themselves is not whether to deploy AI, but how quickly? For those who are taking a wait-and-see approach to AI, it is time to move more aggressively—or be left behind.


“We believe AI will transform the relationship between people and technology.” 

– ATHINA KANIOURA, Chief Data Scientist for Accenture



  • Analytics is crucial to AI success
    AI leaders recognize the strong connection between analytics and their AI success.
    79 percent report that analytics has played a major or central role in their organization’s AI deployments.
  • Organizations are moving toward responsible and ethical use of AI
    92 percent of AI leaders train their AI professionals in ethics. That’s almost double the prevalence of ethics training in organizations that are still missing out on AI success.
  • AI oversight is not optional
    74 percent of AI leaders recognize that close oversight of AI is essential. But there’s still a long way to go before oversight processes catch up with advances in AI.

Our survey reveals the significant momentum behind AI and leaves little doubt that it’s poised to emerge as a transformative force in business, government and society. It also underlines the urgent need for guardrails to guide and manage its adoption.

Once we learn how to balance our desire to control AI with the flexibility it requires to operate at its highest level, AI will engender real trust. Getting there will require education, transparency, clear ethical guidelines—and patience.

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