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A glimpse on 2025 – IV

Graphic showing the adoption of AI in a variety of sectors as of 2021 with the indication of growth over the last two years of pandemic. Image credit: KPMG

7. Augmented creativity

Under this “augmented creativity” label Huawei is looking at the adoption of artificial intelligence in large companies and foresees that by 2025 97% of them will be using it in their services and operation.

As a matter of fact recent surveys, like the one made by KPMG -see the graphic- are pointing out that the adoption of AI has accelerated during the pandemic. As shown in the graphic 93% of companies in the Manufacturing Industry are using AI today, followed by 84% in Financial Services, 83% in Tech, 81% in Retail.

These figures are based on some 950 top executives interviews worldwide and provide a general feeling of the situation. Personally, I am not that sure that this broad figures are significative since I would like to know what level of real knowledge those top level execs have in this matter. The problem with asking a company rep “Is your company using AI?”, as I experienced first hand in the survey done by Anitec Assinform in Italy on this topic, is that AI is both a bloated world (it makes good impression to declare that your company/your products use AI) and hidden (AI is now part of many tools company are using daily without even noticing that there is AI powering them.

To me a meaningful question is not if a company is using AI, rather if a company is setting up its operation and processes to leverage the possibility offered by AI:

  • are data harvested and organised to feed machine learning algorithms, data analytics and decision support?
  • are AI algorithms finely tuned to specific company’s goals?
  • are issues of AI transparency tackled?
  • does the company have internal know-how to leverage and manage AI?
  • is AI seen as a tool for continuous improvement, internally and across the value chain?
  • is AI being used to deliver features (increasing the value of the company portfolio)?
  • is AI being used to learn from the customer, user?

So far, at least in my experience, there are very few companies that could say YES to this list of questions. In most cases AI comes packaged in tools that are acquired on the market, and it is up to these tools to make the most of available data. Seldom a company is being designed to leverage AI.

So, coming back to the Huawei prediction I would say that yes, by 2025 if a survey is made on the adoption of AI by companies the 97% figure is likely. However, if the study takes into account the list of questions I consider to be important for understanding what is going on, I do not think we will be anywhere near that figure.

Digital Transformation goes hand in hand with AI adoption, if it is seen as a business and operation transformation. Eventually all business will -inevitably- use AI, but I would be surprised to see this happening before the end of this decade. The inertia of industry to transformation is huge.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.