Infrastructure and operations leaders are the most common decision-makers involved in ML initiatives. Here's what this means for enterprises in 2021.

ML trend: I&O leaders are the most common decision-makers in cross-functional ML initiatives

In November, we conducted a survey with 400+ business leaders involved in AI/ML initiatives at their organizations and discovered the top 10 trends driving the industry in 2021.

One of the key trends we discovered is that infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders are the most common decision-makers involved in ML initiatives, with 57% of all respondents indicating that they set the priorities for AI/ML at their organizations.

This post explores the trend in detail, and what it means for enterprises as they head into 2021.

AI/ML is cross-functional, and almost always involves I&O

Our survey revealed that AI/ML is deeply cross-functional, with the majority of organizations relying on I&O leaders as one of their key decision-makers.

Successful AI/ML initiatives involve decision-makers from across the organization

Several additional decision-makers were indicated as well, especially CTOs (39%), CIOs (35%), and heads of data science (31%). The bottom line? ML initiatives are cross-functional efforts that require collaboration across multiple teams for success. And I&O is almost always involved.

What’s the role of I&O in ML initiatives?

As the name suggests, infrastructure and operations is essentially the backbone that makes fast, secure, and scalable systems possible. I&O pros typically take the lead on integrating new technologies and initiatives into existing systems and processes in an organization, such as the SDLC or CI/CD pipeline.

When it comes to machine learning, I&O is concerned with scalability, governance, and the integration of ML into existing workflows and tools. Machine learning operations (MLOps) is a tool that can help you operationalize and scale machine learning to successfully address these needs.

What this means for your 2021 ML strategy

Gone are the days when machine learning was the sole or primary purview of data scientists. There are now a wide range of roles and even organizational levels—from the C suite on down—involved in AI/ML strategy and implementation, though I&O has become the major leader in setting priorities.

To succeed in 2021, ML initiatives must account for the needs and concerns of all these decision-makers. And top on the list are the concerns of I&O leaders. ML initiatives that successfully do this are the ones most likely to succeed.

Discover all 10 enterprise ML trends

This is only one of the trends that we discovered in our survey of 400+ business leaders. Check out the full report today to explore all 10 trends we uncovered in our research. 2021 will be a crucial year for ML initiatives—set yourself up for success by understanding where the industry is headed and how you can make the most of it.

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Michelle Wallace