Why Fear of Disruption Is Driving Investment in AI

Executives are looking to future-proof their organizations with key investments in emerging technologies.

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As we begin 2019, Fortune 1000 companies are accelerating their investment in big data and artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives, with an astonishing 91.6% of the executives indicating that their companies are accelerating the pace of their big data and AI investments. This is a principal finding of the NewVantage Partners 2019 Big Data and AI Executive Survey, which includes 65 Fortune 1000 or industry-leading organizations. C-level executives comprise 97.5% of survey participants, representing companies including American Express, Capital One, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard, and MetLife. When we look at the main drivers for this focus on AI and big data investment, one clearly leads the pack: the fear of disruption.

According to the 2019 survey, Fortune 1000 companies are now recognizing that they must become more adept at leveraging their data assets if they are to compete successfully against highly agile data-driven competitors. Over the past decade, exponential growth of data, coupled with access to much larger data volumes and data sources, has enabled rapid evolution of AI capabilities — with the result that organizations are now able to apply AI capabilities at scale to deliver business value.

Three-quarters of the executives surveyed in 2018 cited fear of disruption as the principal motivating business driver as they enter 2019. This fear has built an increasing sense of urgency across companies and industries — with 87.8% stating there is a greater urgency to invest in big data and AI initiatives now more than ever. In order to continue to compete in a turbulent landscape, an overwhelming majority (91.7%) of executives identified the need to transform their organizations to be nimbler and more data-driven in order to keep pace with competitors.

The dollar investments in big data and AI initiatives are also increasing. The percentage of companies reporting investments of greater than $500 million increased from 12.7% in 2018 to 21.1% in 2019. This increase highlights the momentum that AI investments are gaining in just the past 12 months. At the top end of the range, 8.7% of executives reported investments exceeding $1 billion.

AI as a Force for Disruption

AI is perceived by executives as being a highly disruptive capability at a time when companies are concerned about their own risk. When asked to identify the principle driver of investments in big data and AI, 91.7

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