SAP Survey Sees Machine Learning Algorithms Having a Business Impact

    A survey of 360 senior executives published today by SAP and The Economist Intelligence Unit suggests that the impact machine learning algorithms are having on business processes is moving well past the theoretical.

    Nearly half (48 percent) of the companies who say they have already benefited from machine learning cite increased profitability as the top benefit, and that they also expect revenue growth of more than 6 percent over the next two years.

    Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of analytics for SAP, says the study confirms that the primary reason most organizations are investing in machine learning algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) is to increase revenue versus simply cutting costs.

    “It’s about driving higher customer satisfaction,” says Flannagan.

    Organizations that are data driven are usually among the first early adopters of machine learning algorithms to attain a competitive advantage, says Flannagan. As rote tasks get automated, most early adopters of machine learning algorithms are investing in retraining their employees to add and deliver more unique customer experiences, says Flannagan.

    Flannagan concedes that there will eventually be organizations trying to leverage machine learning to cut costs, but overall, those organizations tend not to be leaders in their vertical industry, says Flannagan. Time and again, it’s been shown that organizations that provide a superior customer experience dominate their industries, notes Flannagan.

    Algorithms are clearly a double-edged sword. There’s a massive opportunity to automate a broad range of business processes, spanning everything from accounting to human resources. But as AI advances continue to come fast and furious, it might not be lost on employees how much a company really values them based on the amount of retraining being made available in the months ahead.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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