Machine Learning: The Top Benefits and Barriers
October 12, 2018
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Most organizations are adopting or considering adopting machine learning due to its benefits, rather than with the intention to cut people’s jobs, according to the Voice of the Enterprise (VoTE): AI & Machine Learning – Adoption, Drivers and Stakeholders 2018 survey conducted by 451 Research.

Despite being new, there is a healthy amount of adoption of these technologies already. Almost 50% of survey respondents have deployed or plan to deploy machine learning in their organizations within the next 12 months. According to Nick Patience, founder and research vice president for software at 451 Research, this paints a more realistic picture of machine learning adoption than is often portrayed.

Out of many possible benefits presented to survey respondents, almost half (49%) cited gaining competitive advantage as the most significant benefit they have received from the technology.

Improving the customer experience came a close second, cited by 44% of respondents.

Despite all the hype around mass job losses, lowering costs was cited by only a quarter of our survey respondents.

According to 451 Research, this demonstrates that AI and machine learning is an omni-purpose technology that can bring numerous benefits to organizations, beyond just lowering costs through increased automation.


Alternatively, respondents say the most significant benefit they realized or expect to realize are competitive advantages (49%) and an improved user experience for their customers (44%). This seems to indicate that decision-makers care more about the long-term impact that comes from gaining and retaining customers rather than a short-term fix that comes from cutting costs.


There are some barriers, however. When asked "what is your organization’s most significant barrier to using machine learning?" most cited a shortage of skilled resources as the top barrier (36%).

Skilled resources in the context of machine learning usually means data science skills. And a lack of those skills is reinforced further by the finding that data access and preparation is the second biggest barrier cited by survey respondents.

451 Research expects the lack of skills to gradually decline as a barrier as tools become easier to use and the population of users who can leverage machine learning expands. When all is said and done, organizations large and small will need more personnel to ensure their machine learning deployment brings the business benefits that matter most.

About Voice of the Enterprise (VoTE): AI and Machine Learning: This newest VoTE survey research report provides actionable data and insight and a broad, integrated view of enterprise AI/machine learning strategies and initiatives, their underlying business and technology driver, and the nature, pace and direction of AI/machine learning adoption. Data was collected via roughly 550 web-based surveys conducted with IT end-user decision-makers around the world from small, midsize and large enterprises in both private and public sectors.

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