The pandemic hit companies of every size and industry. Learn how top IT professionals are altering their focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected companies of every size and in every industry, but how has it changed artificial intelligence and machine learning specifically? Like any previous economic change, the pandemic has caused leadership to revisit their bottom lines, adjust strategy, and cut costs as needed, including AI and ML. To better understand the state of enterprise AI/ML during the pandemic, we surveyed 100+ large enterprise IT directors (and above) on AI/ML trends in their organization. Survey respondents were all involved with their organization’s current AI/ML initiatives, and organizations selected all work with at least $1 billion in annual sales and have 5,000 or more employees.

Are you focused on AI/ML yet?

Algorithmia’s survey dove into the complexities and ambiguities of how uncertain economic times have affected ML initiatives, prioritization, and most importantly, funding. The response was a resounding agreement across AI/ML leaders in all corporations that artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives are crucial to future success and will be treated as such moving forward.

In fact, 66% felt either that AI/ML initiatives mattered more than they initially thought, or that AI/ML initiatives should have been their highest priority all along. 

Algorithmia CEO Diego Oppenheimer shared, “These past several months have been difficult for most companies, but we believe investments in AI/ML operations now will pay off for companies sooner than later. Despite the fact that we’re still dealing with the pandemic, CIOs should be encouraged by the results of our survey.”

The landscape of enterprise AI/ML before and after the pandemic

AI/ML projects are not new to the enterprise corporation. In fact, over 50% of respondents acknowledged they had significant AI/ML projects going into the pandemic. So how were these affected?

While many AI/ML initiatives were already in place, organizations were forced to shift the focus of their projects due to economic change. 42% of respondents said at least half of their projects were impacted because of company staffing, funding, or priority adjustments. This resulted in updating current project types, focus, and spend with new initiatives that better help overall business. 

 

Project types

To gain insight in the future of enterprise strategy, we asked about the type of projects that were previously priorities, and how they have shifted moving forward.

Before the pandemic, for example, over 50% of respondents stated they focused ML efforts on back office automation and supply chain optimization projects, but these numbers drop for post-pandemic plans. When it comes to financial planning and  fraud detection, the survey also showed that people cared more about using AI/ML for these initiatives before the pandemic than after. 

On the reverse end, cost optimization, marketplace, and consumer insight all increased in rank from previous prioritization. Businesses are looking to cut current costs and improve customer experience to better hold their audience and position in the market. IT has always been in the business of cost reduction, and increasing AI initiatives in that direction can help provide research and validation on the best course of action for both businesses and customers.

 

Project Focus

Not only are companies updating their project types, they are also realigning their project focus. So, while many companies previously worried more heavily about financial insights and internal processes projects, they have moved their focus to longer term efficiency, and customer-centric initiatives. 

20% of respondents said they refocused on how their projects could support remote workers and 17% expressed refocusing on how their projects could help customers impacted by the pandemic. So in addition to data insights on internal improvement, companies took the pandemic to refocus on how to best serve their clients.

 

Spend

As companies looked to improve the situation of many affected by the pandemic, they also looked to do so as cost-consciously as possible. With that being said, many organizations are still choosing to maintain a steady budget towards AI/ML projects, and 50% are choosing to increase budget and make better use of this resource. However, respondents also worry about how quickly they’ll be able to demonstrate results to key stakeholders who they require buy-in from to increase budgets.

Learn more in our webinar

These are just some of the trends we discovered in the survey. Join us for a webinar on November 12 to learn more about how the pandemic is changing how enterprises approach AI/ML. You’ll hear from Patchen Noelke, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Algorithmia, as he explores the trends we discovered in the survey and key learnings you can apply at your own company.

About Algorithmia

Are your current artificial intelligence or machine learning initiatives lacking? Non-existent? Over 100+ surveyed AI/ML enterprise leaders agree that the priority for these initiatives is increasing, especially as it pertains to overcoming the pandemic economy. And Algorithmia can help.

Algorithmia provides a single platform for all stages of the MLOps and management lifecycle. Put models into production quickly, cost-effectively, and with enterprise-grade governance and security, accelerating the time to value for machine learning projects at your company.

Get a demo today and see how Algorithmia can improve your enterprise AI/ML initiatives.