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Deloitte: AI’s competitive edge is narrowing

Historically, leading organisations who had access to top-notch artificial intelligence (AI) were able to leap ahead. But no longer

Oliver Freeman
|Sep 25|magazine6 min read

Deloitte is usually at the top of the research and insight game, and a year ago they concluded that “the window for AI competitive advantage might be closing.” They came to that conclusion based on data from the second edition of their industry-leading State of AI in the Enterprise report. In the report, Deloitte revealed that 57% of executives within firms that were adopting AI believed that the new technologies would transform their businesses substantially within three years. 38% of respondents thought that AI would do the very same for their industry as a whole during that same time frame, but Deloitte’s 19-point gap implied that AI adopters only had a very small window before their wider industry competition “cut into their lead”.  

Now, though, Deloitte has released the third edition of their State of AI study, and it reveals that AI adopters are very much the same─”bullish” in their approach. Apparently, “more than eight in 10 report that AI will be ‘very’ or ‘critically’ important to their business success in the next two years”, and those who class it as “critically important” are projected to grow from 23% right now to 41% in a couple of years. And, they aren’t shy about their potential growth ─ 71% of the adopters surveyed stated that they intend to further their investments in the next fiscal year. 

For Deloitte, this latest report reinforces their original speculation that the window for competitive advantage through AI adoption is quickly narrowing. The industry-leading technology is becoming far more accessible for businesses of every size, and it’s quickly dominating the landscape, and subsequently becoming a norm, rather than a rare exclusivity for the wealthiest organisations. 

According to the experts at Deloitte: “Adopters who see AI transforming their business within three years grew to 75% while the portion believing that it will transform their industry within three years rose even more steeply, to 61%. Notably, the 19-point advantage we saw last time has shrunk to 14: Industry transformation appears to be nipping at the heels of the early adopters’ AI-powered transformation.” 

It’s clear that, as Deloitte outlines, the early-adopter advantage is fading. That’s because AI’s capabilities are increasingly becoming integrated into enterprise software, and there is an “abundance of cloud-based offerings and tools that accelerate AI development.” With that in mind, AI has become democratised, and subsequently, you don’t need to be an industry specialist to use it anymore. “Indeed, three-quarters of adopters believe AI will be integrated into all enterprise applications within three years. The real competitive advantage may depend on organisations applying AI more creatively and responsibly.”  

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