Artificial Intelligence (AI) will more than double the rate of innovation improvements and employee productivity gains in India by 2021, according to a Microsoft-IDC study released Monday. The study surveyed 200 business leaders and 202 workers in India.


While 77 per cent of business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisation's competitiveness, only one-third of organisations in India have embarked on their AI journeys.


Those companies that have adopted AI expect it to increase their competitiveness by 2.3 times in 2021.


"Today, every company is a software company, and increasingly, every interaction is digital. To be successful in this new world, organisations need to be fast adopters of best-in-class technology, including AI," said Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India.

"In addition, they need to start building their own unique digital talent and ensure that all of this is based on trust and security," Srivathsa said in a statement.


"Economies and businesses that have yet to embark on their AI journey run a real risk of missing out on the competitive benefits that are enjoyed by leaders," she said.

For the organisations that have implemented AI initiatives, the researchers found the top five business drivers to adopt the technology.


As much as twenty four per cent of respondents chose higher competitiveness as number one driver for implementing AI initiatives.


Accelerated innovation (21 per cent), better customer engagement (15 per cent), higher margins (14 per cent) as well as more productive employees (nine per cent) were some of the other drivers.


"Last year, organisations that have adopted AI saw tangible improvements in those areas in the range of 8 to 22 per cent. They forecast further improvements of at least 2.1 times in the three-year horizon, with the biggest jump expected in higher margins, and higher competitiveness," said Ranganath Sadasiva, Director, Enterprise, IDC (International Data Corporation) India.


The study evaluated six dimensions critical to ensuring the success of a nation's AI journey. It uncovered that India needs to build upon its investment, data, and strategy in order to accelerate its AI journey.


"To succeed in AI race, India needs to substantially improve its readiness. Organisations' leadership should make AI a core part of their strategy and develop a learning agility culture," said Sadasiva.


"There is an urgent need for talents and tools to develop, deploy and monitor AI models, along with the availability of a robust data estate with the adequate governance," he said.


The study showed that to move ahead on their AI journeys businesses have to create the right organizational culture.


Approximately half of workers surveyed, as well as a substantial proportion of business leaders believe that cultural traits that support AI journeys, such as risk-taking, proactive innovation, as well as cross-function partnerships among teams, are not pervasive today.

"Overall, workers in India are more skeptical than business leaders about the cultural readiness of their organisations," said Sadasiva.


The study found that India business leaders and workers hold positive viewpoints about the AI's impact on the future of jobs.

More than half believe that AI will either help to do their existing jobs better or reduce repetitive tasks.