To Maximize Value, Organizations Must Balance the Capabilities of AI Against Consumers’ Societal Values
A new international study commissioned by WP Engine and conducted by researchers at The University of London and Vanson Bourne explored the present and near future of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven human digital experiences on the web, and the often tenuous but also potentially rewarding relationship between consumers, brands and AI. The study, which surveyed consumers and enterprise companies (1,000 employees or more) in the US, UK and Australia, found that in an era of purpose-driven consumption, values—such as transparency, trust and humanness—are key drivers of value in AI.
“Our research shows enterprises investing in AI are already seeing astounding return on investment and performance outcomes”
AI Growth & The Internet
According to IDC, worldwide spending on artificial intelligence (AI) systems is forecast to reach $35.8 billion in 2019, an increase of 44% over the amount spent in 2018. Much of that growth will come from the application of AI online because there is a natural, evolutionary symbiosis between AI and the internet. The study explores the possibility of AI on the web—suggesting how it will truly benefit the world when it is grounded in values rather than simply in topline business benefits.
“The degree of long-term benefits AI will bring to an enterprise’s digital initiatives is deeply linked with the importance of aligning brand values with a core set of ethical decision-making values,” said Mary Ellen Dugan, CMO at WP Engine. “The brands who successfully integrate the revenue-driving power of AI with the trust, safety, and values customers expect will be successful in creating winning, powerful digital experiences.”
The Value of AI
The study indicates that organizations are starting to see a measurable impact on the bottom line when using AI effectively. In fact, it showed that performance leaders may owe their success to investment in AI, with 92% of brands saying AI has helped them increase or widen their competitive advantage. Further, a majority (91.5%) of enterprise IT decision makers indicate AI improves financial performance. Since these benefits are so pervasive, it comes as no surprise that 37.5% of enterprises plan to increase their AI budgets by significant amounts (50-75%) and that is on top of a base of more than $1 million a year spent on AI by the majority of enterprises surveyed (61.5%).
The value of AI to organizations is clear, as the following additional survey results show:
- 96% of enterprises say AI helps them optimize efficiency
- 94% of brands see a positive return on investment on the AI systems they use to power the digital experiences they offer their customers
- 93% of enterprises say AI allows them to improve customer service
The Values of AI
However, in an era of increasingly purpose-driven consumption, human values-related topics—such as trust, safety and security—came out even higher than the financial benefits created in terms of priority and importance to consumers and enterprises. AI provides organizations with a powerful format to promote their core values, surfacing utility and aligning benefits more closely associated with their brand and its value proposition to consumers. Therefore the opportunity for organizations to increase their bottom line is interlinked with the importance of ethical commitments to the people, community and environment with and in which they do business. If enterprises can promise a safe space of privacy and trust, the ability to offer incredible digital experiences becomes almost limitless.
While organizations are starting to see the benefits of AI, they have yet to truly capitalize on these strengths in a way that delivers true utility and aligns with the human needs of consumers. The study shows a clear preference from consumers for the following values-based imperatives:
- 93% of respondents believe that protections for personal data shared on websites should meet established data security and privacy standards
- 92% of respondents believe organizations should be able to explain how they use personal data
- 91% of consumers believe maintaining trust during personalized digital experiences is important
Key AI Topics for Successful Digital Experiences
The study found the interplay of value and values across three core pillars—personalization, data exchange and meaning—is required to build safe, reliable and compelling digital experiences. When the power of AI is added to each of these pillars, digital experiences truly take off, becoming more engaging and offering a more personable and human interaction that today’s online consumers demand.
The ROI of AI
Companies are already putting AI to use in today’s digital experiences. 94% of enterprises say they see a positive ROI on the AI they invest in to power digital experiences. The return on investment of AI is clear for businesses, with 44.5% of those surveyed seeing a visible increase in sales volume, but it’s not too early to think about how AI will be able to make tough but ethical decisions. 57.6% of respondents believe AI will have a positive impact on the world, but 44.7% believe bias in AI could cause unequal representation of minorities. At the same time, 52.6% believe AI is an opportunity to overcome human bias.
“Our research shows enterprises investing in AI are already seeing astounding return on investment and performance outcomes,” said Dr. Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London. “Consumers are demanding that innovating with AI in digital experiences clearly prioritizes and expresses values around privacy, trust, and transparency. Only by laying a solid foundation of ethics and values that guide the implementation of all facets of an AI solution, will companies truly be able to fully harness the value of AI.”