US and China seen as leaders in AI innovation, but emerging players gaining ground according to EY poll

London and Palo Alto, 8 March 2018

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  • Corporate board diversity will be key for companies’ long-term success
  • EY announces global innovation garage to meet demand for disruptive technologies

Despite its strong history of innovation, the US is facing competition from emerging players across the globe. According to a poll of 126 senior artificial intelligence (AI) professionals released today by EY, 40% of respondents believe the US is leading the race in AI adoption, followed by China (32%). With data becoming more readily accessible and governments worldwide taking an active role in investing in innovation, the US and China are starting to feel the heat from other countries.

Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer, says:

“While the US and China continue to lead in AI technology, we are seeing considerable strides being made by other countries, as well. With high-growth start-up scenes in Israel and Japan and a recognized academic community in the UK, the true factor for success will lie in access to quality data and governments prioritizing innovation. The countries that will ultimately break out of the pack will be those that focus on finding ways to unlock data and take full advantage of the access and forward-thinking insight it provides.”

AI will transform enterprises in 2018

While technologies like blockchain will see a continued increase in application, AI will take the lead among transformative technologies for enterprises in the next year. In fact, 39% of senior AI professionals surveyed believe that machine learning will see the most growth among innovative technologies in 2018. As leaders increasingly collaborate with technologists to achieve comprehensive integration into their business’ value chain, companies like airlines and hotels will leverage customer data and AI to improve customer experience.

Chris Mazzei, Global Chief Data & Analytics Officer, says:

“2018 could be a breakthrough year for more widespread AI adoption. As companies look to integrate AI into their operations, there is a particular opportunity with regards to robotic process automation (RPA) software. By combining the intelligence of AI with the operational efficiencies RPA offers, this software can be transformed into a value-generating component of business toolkits, applicable across multiple business functions. This increase in AI adoption will also lead to a rise in other newer technologies leveraging intelligent automation at their core: namely, chatbots will replace intranets, offering a much more intuitive and efficient way to access information within organizations.”

Board diversity will propel companies into the future

With many senior AI professionals attributing stakeholder buy-in (43%) and lack of AI talent (57%) as the greatest barriers to adopting AI technology according to the poll, successful CEOs and boards will need to take long-term steps to overhaul their current mindsets to attract future talent and remain innovative.

In order for boards and the C-suite to drive companies to be competitive in the age of disruption, they must examine their composition to incorporate diverse perspectives that can contribute to the company’s forward success. With 82% of investors believing that composition should be a board priority, according to the EY Center for Board Matters, there is merit to integrating diverse perspectives to enhance issue identification and problem-solving ability while impeding “group think.”

Wong says: “Boards without age, gender, nationality and skillset diversity will fail to lead companies effectively in the new era of technology. Innovation involves an investment in people as well as technology. Having a board and C-suite that embodies a global mindset, putting diversity in all its forms at its forefront will be essential in moving the needle across businesses.”

EY announces Global Innovation Garage in Palo Alto, CA

To help meet the growing need for organizations to leverage disruptive technologies, EY today also unveiled the EY Global Innovation Garage in Palo Alto. The new 6,000-square-foot location will be home to the EY Global Innovation team.

The EY Global Innovation Garage sets the foundation for collaboration between technology and business in a workspace that fosters creativity, experimentation and innovation within the organization. With Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer, at the helm, the new location in the heart of Palo Alto will support the development of new ventures, services and technologies in a close-knit team setting. Leading talent, from mathematicians to astrophysicists, will provide an unmatched level of strategic thinking that inspires forward-thinking and fosters innovative solutions for future success.

Innovation is at the core of the EY business globally and how it helps clients achieve business transformation. EY drives innovation through a globally connected network of teams, EY wavespace innovation centers, labs and the Garage – all working together to solve problems in new ways, focused on disruptive growth strategies and breakthrough technologies.

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About EY
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About the poll
EY recently polled 126 senior AI professionals from Global 2000 organizations attending a conference in Boston to gather insights regarding AI trends for 2018.