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What AI has to do with business processes – global survey

Understanding of the connection between processes and AI is widespread but so too is worry that poor processes will prevent AI breakthroughs, according to a recent survey.

Some 89% of leaders say they’re using or implementing AI, but 72% of that group fear process problems will hamper further AI implementation over the next two years.

That’s according to a survey of 1,200+ business leaders working in process improvement, IT, supply chain, or finance and shared services, and based in either the US, DACH, France, Spain, or the UK.

To better understand how business leaders view the connection between processes and AI, I’ve pulled out some of the studies’ key AI findings below.

AI trumps cost cutting as top factor driving process optimization

AI has taken the world inside and outside the office four walls by storm. Board drama aside, everyone wants to make the most of it. There is growing recognition enterprises need a strong process foundation to make AI ambition real, reveals the survey.

Asked for the ‘factors that will drive the need for process optimization’, respondents put ‘harnessing emerging technologies like AI’ top of the pile (70%). It even narrowly beat out the need to cut costs (69%).

Looking into specific functions, the IT department emerges as the most enthusiastic to optimize in the name of emerging technology (81%), followed by leaders responsible for processes/operations (69%), then supply chain leaders (68%), and lastly finance and shared services leaders (63%).

Leaders in US and finance most worried processes will stall AI

With business leaders citing use of AI as the top motivator for optimizing processes, it comes as no surprise they are worried process shortcomings could hamper it.

As highlighted above 72% of those using or implementing AI worry their efforts with emerging technologies will be held back by process shortcomings. Leaders based in the US are most concerned (77%) compared with 73% across France, Spain and the UK combined. Least concerned are those based in DACH (64%).

More interested in department than location? Here’s how the different functions compare. IT leaders are the least concerned process shortcomings will hold back further implementation of AI in the next two years (68%). That compares with 70% of process/operations pros and 71% of supply chain leaders. Finance professionals are the group most worried (77%.)

Not all departments use AI equally

Departments take on new technologies at different paces. Whether down to objectives, appetite for innovation, or even leadership preferences, no two departments’ embrace of emerging tech is the same.

IT leaders today are the most likely to be using or actively implementing AI, with 94% saying artificial intelligence is part of their department. Supply chain leaders come in second (91%), followed by finance professionals (88%). Those working in processes/operations are the least likely (85%). 

Data is top barrier to new tech implementation

So what’s making the laggards, well, lag? Data, which came out as the top barrier to implementing new technology (40%). The other top barriers were: 

  • knowing how and when to implement new tech alongside AI (35%)

  • doubts about governance and security (33%)

  • resistance to change (33%)

  • and cost (31%)

Bright spot alert. IT leaders take the crown for the most bullish department when it comes to new tech implementation: some 4% of the group say there are no barriers at all.

What process mining has to do with unleashing AI

How exactly process optimization and AI will complement each other will be determined by enterprise leaders and the lessons they learn along the way. What is certain is that process optimization helps teams reach their objectives (just 1% of survey respondents disagreed with the statement.)

The process era is here, confirms the survey. An era in which optimizing processes will be as foundational to business success as product development, finance, or sales. Question is, how will you ensure your processes are ready to meet your objectives and make the most of technology’s next big breakthrough? 

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Edward Baggaley
Content Marketing Lead

Edward writes about Celonis, its customers, partners, and product. He creates blogs - perhaps the one you’re reading - as well as ads, ebooks, keynotes, and advertorials. Newsweek, The Times, Time, and many B2B magazines have published his work.

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