A discussion of the findings of a new study from KPMG about industrial manufacturing’s adoption of artificial intelligence, with Roy Mathews, Managing Director of Data Analytics, and David Neely, Managing Director in the firm’s Intelligent Automation Practice.
The KPMG study, “Thriving in an AI World,” examined AI adoption in seven industries, but this is the first year that it has addressed industrial manufacturing. And the results in that sector came as something of a surprise to those who assumed that many companies remain on the fence about investing in AI. In fact, 93% of the industrial manufacturing business leaders participating in the study said AI is “moderately to fully functional” in their organizations. That was the highest number among the seven industries surveyed by KPMG. And the same percentage of industrial manufacturing leaders said they wished their companies would even more aggressively adopt AI technology.
Why the strong numbers? Mathews speculates that it’s due to the suitability of AI as a “great enabler” of Industry 4.0 initiatives — the coming of the so-called smart factory. Neely adds that respondents might be more freely defining what constitutes AI today, applying the term to some of what they’ve already been doing in product development and automation. Study respondents offered yet another possible explanation for the rapid progress of AI, with 72% saying that COVID-19 has sped up its adoption.
The wide acceptance of AI in industrial manufacturing doesn’t mean an end to the role of humans in that sector. The technology is indeed replacing some low-skilled jobs, Mathews said, but it’s also creating positions in better-paying high-tech roles, such as support for cognitive learning. “One evolution we’re seeing,” says Mathews, “is AI working along with humans to improve the customer experience. It’s an encouraging trend.”
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