More than three-quarters (78%) of consumers worldwide say companies must address bias in artificial intelligence (AI) and new research from Genpact (NYSE: G), a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation, finds that they will reward businesses that take action. The study, now in its third year, underscores how AI continues to present opportunities for growth, but businesses still have work to do to address customers’ concerns about bias and workers’ concerns about equity in re-skilling opportunities.
In times of uncertainty, providing good service isn’t good enough. Empathising deeply with customer concerns is what will separate the winners from losers. Genpact’s study, AI 360: Hold, fold, or double down?, shows that while 69% of UK consumers worry about AI discriminating against them, and 64% fear that AI will make decisions that affect them without their knowledge, companies that understand these issues and act accordingly can succeed.
The study analyses perceptions of three distinct audiences that are critical to AI’s widespread adoption in business: senior executives, workers, and consumers. Taken together, this 360-degree view provides organisations with comprehensive and actionable insights that now have added relevance in considering business resilience today. The research offers views from 500 senior executives, and 4,000 workers and consumers in the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, and Australia.
Beating bias brings business
Going all in to address AI bias can increase opportunities to build customer relationships. Most UK consumers (63%) are more likely to recommend a company that can demonstrate its AI algorithms are bias-free, and more likely to purchase products or services from such businesses (63%). Gen Z (69%) and millennial (70%) respondents champion unbiased brands even more so, while in the UK millennials are 11% more likely than GenX and 21% more than Boomers to do so.
Reskilling still not enough; inequality in opportunities for men and women
Many workers see opportunities in AI, and 90% of UK workers are the most willing to learn new skills to take advantage of this technology. Yet for the third consecutive year, companies are not meeting the demand for reskilling that takes into account there being more AI in the workplace. Only about a third (31%) of UK senior executives say their companies offer AI-related reskilling opportunities, no improvement globally from 2018.
The good news is the current findings show that 61% of senior UK executives are talking about providing employees with training. However, globally, both male and female senior executives agree (77% and 75%, respectively) that companies in their industry generally do not provide equal opportunities to men and women for AI reskilling.
“Businesses are being challenged like they never have been before,” said Tiger Tyagarajan, chief executive officer, Genpact. “In this unprecedented time, AI provides companies with a valuable tool to improve customer experience and mine data to engage with customers in a more personal, empathetic way. Our study suggests there is significant optimism shown by both consumers and employees if companies can demonstrate a responsible approach to AI. It is important that business leaders implement equitable training and fight AI bias.”
AI benefits can drive personalised services
Some of the top benefits of AI according to senior UK executives are improving customer experience and service (44%), the ability to leverage data and analytics (37%), and freeing up time for employees to focus on more important tasks (34%). Customer experience tops the AI benefits list globally for the first time, compared to similar studies in 2018 and 2017, signalling a new level of maturity in enterprise AI adoption.
These findings underscore AI’s increasing value in achieving success in today’s disruptive market, which require companies to commit more resources to creating the right customer experiences. The companies that emerge the strongest will have doubled down on AI to remain close to their customers, predicting and responding to their needs, and being empathetic in their actions.
AI reimagines businesses and helps build resilience
Almost a quarter (23%) of senior UK executives say their organisations are implementing AI extensively to fundamentally reimagine their businesses, and more than half (56%) of the AI leaders* globally are doing so. These findings may bode well for the future since challenges from the current business environment have underscored the importance of digital transformation. AI leaders may have the competitive edge since the technology plays a key role in building resilience that helps companies handle disruption and pivot according to market demands.
AI 360 also reveals AI investments have increased across industries globally, with 40% of UK senior executives reporting their organisations have invested $10 million or more in AI, a 6% increase compared to a similar study in 2018. When looking at investments of $20 million or more, 18% of respondents say their companies are investing at this level, which is a 15% uptick from the prior study.
As companies continue to confront current workplace disruption, senior executives may be questioning whether to pause AI activities, walk away, or keep going. Research shows that AI adoption is advancing rapidly and generating a positive impact for almost three quarters of respondents’ organisations. In the coming months, it will be critical for businesses to double down, in the right places – with a longer-term, holistic outlook. They must embrace strategies that enable the greater transparency and a more ethical approach to business that societies are demanding, and the hyper-personalised experiences that customers expect. And AI unlocks opportunities to meet those goals.