Why is now the time to launch an AI project?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay. In June 2020, three out of four executives vouched that AI had a critical role to play in their day-to-day business [1].



Jean-Pierre Maissin – Partner - Strategy, Analytics & M&A Leader - Deloitte

Nicolas Griedlich - Director - Analytics & Cognitive - Deloitte

Jordane Le Ponner - Manager - Analytics & Cognitive - Deloitte

Anke Joubert - Senior Consultant - Analytics & Cognitive - Deloitte

Thomas Milazzo - Senior Consultant - Analytics & Cognitive - Deloitte

Mrad Azoury - Analyst - Analytics & Cognitive - Deloitte

Published on 17 September 2020

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In 2020, around three-quarters of IT and business executives believe that AI will be very important for their business, if not critically important. The largest gain is experienced via increased efficiency and enhanced products and services [1]. Smart AI exploitation can create value from existing data by imitating human-like skills through analyzing patterns, providing output to guide decision-making, and automation.

An AI strategy that supports AI implementation is integral to success. This article will highlight four reasons why your business should adopt AI now and three tactics recommended for an effective AI implementation.


AI is set to remain in the spotlight for the foreseeable future. Within the next three years, AI is expected to be integrated into all enterprise applications, according to 74 percent of C-level executives [1]. This demonstrates that enterprises across many industries are likely to move towards AI implementation. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we foresee that spending on AI research and development will remain, with pre-COVID-19 forecasts likely to be revised slightly downwards [4,8]. In other words: AI is here to stay.

In the past few years, AI market leaders have paved the way for small to medium-sized businesses to invest in AI by allowing their developed technology to be accessed through different types of services. New AI adopters can capitalize on the different challenges and lessons that AI early adopters already encountered and overcame. The road to AI is more clearly defined for new investors.

In recent years, “data for AI” has been a recurring hot topic. This is still the case in 2020, with discussions stretching from new techniques to use data, to ongoing discussions on data privacy protections [3].

At Deloitte, we support human-centric AI development. This process includes validating and managing data, interpreting real-time insights and results, and translating AI output to inform smart decision-making. This iterative process leads to better business outcomes. People alone cannot achieve it, nor technology alone; instead, it takes humans with machines working together in a designed system [5].


The time to implement AI is now. These four key factors, supported by statistics and market insights, explain why you should not wait to implement AI.



There is no better proof that AI is more than just a trend than concrete examples of your competitors and other market players implementing AI. The positive impact of AI on early adopters should be enough evidence of the gains achieved from smart AI implementation. Companies already involved in AI technologies plan to increase their AI investments in the next fiscal year by an average of 26 percent [1]. This trend emphasizes initial investors’ support and satisfaction.

AI is key to market leadership. However, as more organizations move toward AI implementation, the competitive edge is limited to first movers. In 2020, 75 percent of management across IT and businesses believed their organization would become AI-driven within three years (a 25 percent increase from 2018), whereas only 61 percent (a 50 percent increase from 2018) believed that the entire industry would [1]. Companies still have a small window of competitive advantage that will shrink over time as the market adjusts. Organizations that do not adapt are likely to be left behind, so there is no time to waste. Now is the time to invest in AI. Be proactive—become a market leader.



Explainable AI is an important theme in the global AI conversation, with the public call for regulation, model transparency and institutional guidelines growing louder. Within ethical risks, safety concerns are paramount, followed by the lack of explainability and transparency in AI‐derived decisions; the elimination of jobs due to AI‐driven automation; and using AI to manipulate people’s behavior. More than half of AI adopters that express these concerns also agree that regulatory efforts by governments are vital [1].

Industry standards should become the backbone of AI implementation. The EU has published ethical guidelines for trustworthy AI based on three components: lawfulness, ethics and robustness [6]. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s principles focusing on the responsible deployment of trustworthy AI and offering recommendations for public policy was adopted by 42 countries [7]. AI policies and strategies are paving the way for guided and ethical AI and standard practices around the world. This is leading to a more regulated and trusted space, the perfect environment in which to start your AI journey.



AI is not a new phenomenon; it has been around for decades under different names and concepts [2]. Previously, two main limitations inhibited quick development: a lack of data and computing power. However, these obstacles are now history with developments in cloud computing, more affordable storage, scalability, and increased collection of available data.

Regarding the different areas of AI technology, around 93 percent of AI adopters are using cloud-based AI capabilities, while 78 percent rely on open-sourced AI capabilities [1]. This means that AI implementation does not necessarily require a large upfront investment, allowing us to guide clients through an AI strategy that valorizes current data with quick-win use cases. Organizations can now test new ideas without an upfront investment in machinery, allowing them to start small and scale up according to their AI prioritization. Data is king. With AI being easier than ever to implement, the time to invest is now.



The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has affected the business world from both an organization and a consumer behavior perspective. Despite the general negative effect of the pandemic on the economy, one advantage has been the acceleration in digital transformation as the growth of spending in this field is expected to be between 8% and 13% in 2020 [10]. This digitalization trend can reinforce the use of AI by leveraging the data collected and developing relevant use cases.

With the different ways that COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of consumers, such as home working and confinement, consumer behavior has naturally adapted to these new norms. Before the pandemic, quality (48 percent), price (47 percent) and brand (24 percent) were the top three priorities of consumers, but now the focus has shifted to availability (49 percent), price (36 percent) and quality (34 percent) [11]. AI can help your organizations adjust to new market trends by analyzing data and spotting different derivations in consumer behavior. Make the most of your data to acclimatize to your customers’ fast-changing habits.


By combining our expertise with real-life lessons learned, Deloitte proposes three key tactics for a successful AI implementation.


While today’s AI adopters are focused on efficiency and enhancement, businesses will need to push the boundaries of AI to differentiate themselves [1]. This requires developing solutions that are both useful and original. AI is not a conformed and limited application to be used in a single correct way. Our “The Power of AI” InsideNOW article shows how AI’s advantage lies in the many areas it can service [12]. It should be viewed as a multifunctional solution that can tackle different problems using data. The key differentiator in successful AI application is creativity.

A large part of current AI projects being implemented is in IT and cybersecurity. This could be a direct result of the lack of involvement of different departments in the AI field. Introducing employees from different lines of work to AI will lead to new, creative and out-of-the-box use cases in their respective areas.


With multiple AI solutions on the market, organizations are facing the to-buy-or-to-build dilemma [1]. It can be difficult to select the right AI technologies and suppliers, decide upon the correct requirements, and ensure key business needs are covered. Therefore, an important first step is to become a smart AI consumer.

Deloitte can be your partner in demystifying this complexity. Through a better understanding of your business, we can give you a set of developed use cases to maximize value. To ensure a successful AI journey, we can create a proper implementation roadmap tailored to your business-specific requirements that is mapped to available in-house or vendor offers. And, we can provide preliminary proof of the expected results, in addition to covering all the services required after implementation and any alteration of the initial product at a later stage.


By developing a set of processes to actively manage AI risks, organizations can build greater levels of trust within the business and with their customers and partners [1]. Proactive mitigation of risks is necessary to differentiate your organization in the market. Including AI risk management as a part of the broader organization risk strategy, creating

new positions such as Chief Data Officer, and training AI users to identify and solve ethical issues at the front line are all effective ways to proactively manage risks [9]. Testing and auditing AI products and staying up to date with local and global regulations can ensure informed decision-making, regulatory compliance and transparency.

These three tactics will differentiate your AI implementation and lead your organization on the journey to becoming an AI-driven organization.


[1] Deloitte, 2020. Maintaining an edge in the era of pervasive AI, State of AI in the Enterprise, third edition. Available: [2] Information Age, 2018. Why should businesses be investing in AI? Available: [3] CB Insights, 2020. Artificial Intelligence Trends to Watch In 2020. Available: [4] Forbes, 2020. The Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Trends Everyone Should Be Watching In 2020. Available: [5] Deloitte, 2019. Unleashing talent with the future of artificial intelligence - Your people with augmented power. Available: [6] Publication Office of the European Union, 2019. Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI. Available:,be%20ethical%2C%20ensuring%20adherence%20to%20ethical%20principles%20 [7] OECD, 2019. Forty-two countries adopt new OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence. Available: [8] IDC, 2020. COVID-19: Factoring in the Impact on Artificial Intelligence Industry and Use Case Spend. [9] Deloitte, 2020. Thriving in the era of pervasive AI: Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise, third edition. Available: [10] Statista, 2020. Digital Transformation spending growth forecast worldwide by sector in 2020, pre and post COVID-19. Available: [11] Marketing Week, 2020. How COVID-19 has changed shopper behaviour. Available: [12] Deloitte, 2020. The Power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), AI with sustainability, inclusion and innovation. Available:


  • Organizations are moving towards implementing AI technologies and strategies.
  • Human-centric AI should be at the heart of every AI project.
  • The market is adapting to the many AI projects being implemented and the competitive advantage window is narrowing.
  • Explainable AI and industry regulations are leading to a more regulated and trusted space.
  • Cloud infrastructure has made it easier for all organizations to invest in AI at a fraction of the cost.
  • AI can analyze organizations’ data to detect changes in customer behavior.
  • Creativity in AI use cases is key, and cross-functional involvement can enable this creativity.
  • The variety of services available around AI have created a dilemma for organizations - Deloitte can help in selecting the appropriate use cases and technologies.
  • Tackling AI risks and managing them will increase an AI project’s success rate.
  • Imagine, deliver, run!

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The Power of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI plays a part in tackling today’s global challenges in different ways. Apart from its use across different sectors, it supports efforts to make the world more sustainable, creates new inclusion opportunities and drives innovation.

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