Gartner survey reveals 70% of AI projects in digital commerce are successful

IT and research consultancy firm Gartner said that about 70 percent of digital commerce organizations it surveyed had “extremely successful” AI (artificial intelligence) projects. Three-quarters of the respondents have shown optimism at the new platform as they see “double-digit improvements” in the outcomes they measure.

To be able to understand its adoption, challenges, success, and value of AI in digital commerce, Gartner conducted a survey of 307 digital commerce organizations that are piloting the platform. The respondents are from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“Digital commerce is fertile ground for AI technologies, thanks to an abundance of multidimensional data in both customer-facing and back-office operations,” said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner.

While previous reports by a different research firm said there is an inadequate supply of people skilled in AI, Gartner still predicts that by 2020, “AI will be used by at least 60 percent of digital commerce organizations and that 30 percent of digital commerce revenue growth will be attributable to AI technologies.”

The most common metrics used to measure the business impact of AI are customer satisfaction, revenue and cost reduction. For customer satisfaction, revenue and cost reduction specifically, respondents cited improvements of 19, 15 and 15 percent, respectively.

Customer segmentation, product categorization, and fraud detection are just a few of the range of AI applications used in digital commerce.

The platform may have recorded early success but Gartner also found out that there is an enormous challenge awaiting those who want to adopt it. “The survey shows that a lack of quality training data (29 percent) and in-house skills (27 percent) are the top challenges in deploying AI in digital commerce,” according to the survey. “AI skills are scarce and many organizations don’t have such skills in-house and will have to hire from outside or seek help from external partners.”

The research firm also found out that 63 percent of the organizations who reported success are using a commercial AI, while 43 percent wanted to do it on their own and developed the solutions in-house or by a service provider.

“Organizations looking to implement AI in digital commerce need to start simple,” said Ms. Shen. “Many have high expectations for AI and set multiple business objectives for a single project, making it too complex to deliver high performance. Many also run AI projects for more than 12 months, meaning they are unable to quickly apply lessons learned from one project to another.”

On average, respondents spent $1.3 million in development for an AI project in digital commerce. However, of the more successful organizations, 52 percent spent less than $1 million on development, 20 percent spent between $1 to 2 million, and 9 percent spent more than $5 million.

Gartner also gave out the following advice to digital commerce who are looking at adopting AI in the future:

  • Assess talent. If there is insufficient AI talent in-house to develop and maintain a high-performance solution, go with a commercial solution of proven performance.
  • Aim for under 12 months for a single AI project. Divide larger projects into phases and aim for under 12 months for the first phase, from planning, development, and integration to complete launch.
  • Ensure enough funding. Allocate the majority of the budget to talent acquisition, data management and processing, as well as integration with existing infrastructure and processes. Enough funding also helps secure high-performance solutions.
  • Use the minimum viable product (MVP) approach. Break down complex business problems and develop targeted solutions to drive home business outcomes. Use AI to optimize existing technologies and processes rather than to try to develop breakthrough solutions.
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