The global AI agenda: North America

This report is part of “The global AI agenda,” a thought leadership program by MIT Technology Review Insights examining how organizations are using AI today and planning to do so in the future. Featuring a global survey of 1,004 AI experts conducted in January and February 2020, it explores AI adoption, leading use cases, benefits, and challenges, and seeks to understand how organizations might share data with each other to develop new business models, products, and services in the years ahead.

How do executives in the US and Canada see AI playing out in their business? What are the main benefits reaped so far, and what challenges do they face in AI deployment? The main findings of the report are as follows:

  • North America has closed the AI gap with Asia and Europe. North American organizations were among the earliest to launch AI, with 11% deploying AI as early as 2015. Then adoption slowed, with Asian and European businesses pressing ahead faster in the subsequent years. But by the end of 2019, more than 85% of North American respondents report that they had launched AI initiatives.
  • Sales and marketing will become a priority area for AI. The business functions to which AI was being most actively applied by North American firms currently are customer services (selected by 55%), followed by R&D (48%) and manufacturing and operations (40%). The biggest expected increase in activity will be in sales and marketing, rising from 30% to 60%, and human resources (from 7% to 20%).
  • North American respondents are positive about data sharing. Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) are “very willing” to share data with third parties for building new value chains, products, or services, and a further 52% described themselves as “somewhat willing.” They would specifically seek out faster and more innovative product development as well as greater visibility across supply chains. Just 20% said they were unwilling to share data, compared with 40% of respondents in Europe and the Middle East and Africa.

Download the full report.