ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, today announced results from its recent market study, The 2021 Digital Readiness Survey, finding that 86% of organisations worldwide are using artificial intelligence (AI) more than they did two years ago. However, only 35% of the global respondents reported that their confidence in the technology has significantly increased.
The focus of the study was to understand technological and process maturity in a post-COVID world, in areas such as remote work, security, business analytics, and AI. ManageEngine commissioned Dimensional Research to conduct a survey of 1,210 qualified executives and technology professionals from small businesses to large enterprises. Researchers investigated geographical trends from North America, Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom, India, and Singapore.
Organisations worldwide mainly increased their use of AI to improve business analytics (63%), increase operational efficiency (62%) and enhance the customer experience (60%). While a majority of global respondents (94%) believe that AI will meet business expectations—and 65% stated AI had delivered measurable business results—some fears remain around the technology’s performance.
“The potential for AI to improve business efficiency and the customer experience was firmly on show through 2020, with AI handling everything from increased customer service volumes to oversight of self-service processes,” said Rajesh Ganesan, vice president at ManageEngine. “While AI is being handed more responsibility and is applied in more business-critical use cases, our research shows this is a double-edged sword and that more work is needed to embrace the technology and lift internal capability to ensure AI achieves its promise.”
The growing use of AI coincides with a broader trend of using analytics to improve the use of available data and the speed and accuracy of decision-making. Profitability and competition, particularly in the post-pandemic era, are also driving organisations across the world to invest in business analytics platforms and capabilities.
Business analytics is an umbrella term for several types of analytics—descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive. Descriptive analytics interprets data simply, diagnostic analytics helps answer why something happened, predictive analytics makes forecasts and prescriptive analytics makes suggestions. Predictive and prescriptive analytics, in particular, might help organisations more accurately forecast future trends and suggest potential courses of action to help avoid negative consequences from any future disruption on the scale of COVID-19.
The biggest user of business analytics by far is IT. An average of 63% of IT departments worldwide cited this in the survey. In North America, however, 67% of executives noted their use of business analytics, which was higher than their IT departments’ use (61%). Business areas such as marketing, sales, human resources, operations, and R&D are also showing interest in business analytics but are well behind IT and executives on adoption and actual use.
Other key global findings of the survey include:
- A mighty 96% of organisations are planning to continue supporting remote workers for the next two years. Concerningly, the report also found that 84% of IT professionals believe that remote workers have increased their enterprise’s security risk.
- More than half (56%) of respondents stated that improving their security infrastructure is a key driver of adopting new technologies.
- 78% of organisations revealed that remote workers download the software without obtaining approval from the IT department; this shadow IT mainly included mobile-specific applications (40%), online meeting tools (38%), and document sharing solutions (31%).
- 84% of respondents use more cloud services now than they did before the pandemic began. However, most respondents believe that improved security (56%), performance (52%), and reliability (51%) would increase their company’s confidence in cloud-based solutions.