The demand for artificial intelligence (AI), data, and digital tools is soaring as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on many enterprises.

This is among the findings in a new study conducted by Corinium and sponsored by Fico. The report, “Building AI-Driven Enterprises in a Disrupted Environment”, surveyed more than 100 c-level analytic and data executives and conducted in-depth interviews to understand how organisations are developing and deploying AI capabilities.

The study found that the uncertainties caused by the pandemic have forced many organizations to adopt a more committed, disciplined approach to becoming an AI-driven enterprise, with more than half (57%) of the chief data and analytics officers saying that Covid-19 has increased demand for AI, digital products and tools.

Enterprises are seeking new AI-driven ways to mitigate risks and navigate through uncharted territories in the current economic environment. The report reveals the central role AI has in shaping the future as global markets work through and begin to recover from Covid-19; as well as how to mitigate future risk and disruption going forward.

Some key findings include:

Organisations rally to add AI capacity

Most data-driven enterprises are now aggressively investing in their AI capabilities, in fact 63 percent of respondents have started scaling AI capacity within their organisation.

However, enterprise chief data and chief analytics officers are facing a wide range of challenges as they increasingly look to grow AI.

Ninety-three percent say ethical considerations represent a barrier to AI adoption.

Other barriers identified include:

* Building a team with the right skill set (66%);

* Integrating new technology with legacy systems (62%); and

* Regulatory and compliance risks (60%).

Ethical and responsible AI

More than 93% of respondents said that ethical considerations represented a barrier to AI adoption within their organisations. However, as pointed out in the report, “ensuring AI is used responsibly and ethically in business context is a huge, but critical task”.

Half of survey respondents said they have strong model governance and management rules in place to support ethical AI usage, making this the most common approach to tackling the challenge.

However, more work is needed to ensure ethical AI usage as 67% of AI leaders don’t monitor their models to ensure their continued accuracy and ethical treatment.

“Being ethical is not being blind to what’s in the model,” says Dr Scott Zoldi, chief analytics officer at Fico. “Organisations need to ensure that AI is designed robustly and is explainable, transparent, built ethically and governed by auditable, recorded development process that is referenced as data shifts over time.”

When asked which business areas are pushing for greater AI responsibility within an organisation, data and analytics leaders said:

* Board of directors (60%);

* Data, analytics and AI (53%); and

* Legal or compliance (52%).

AI enables post-Covid competitive advantage

From better customer experiences and reducing financial crime to automating business processes and improving risk management, respondents believe AI will help their organisations secure a competitive advantage.