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A.I. is being embedded throughout the enterprise

September 28, 2021, 9:47 AM UTC

Good morning.

A.I. is steadily working its way into the business processes of big companies. That was my takeaway from a virtual event Fortune held yesterday as part of the lead-up to our Brainstorm A.I. gathering in Boston this November. A.I. applications are no longer limited to the easiest use cases—chat bots, robotic process automation, cybersecurity detection, etc. They are rapidly being embedded throughout the enterprise. For instance:

  • Duke Energy is using A.I. to evaluate video footage from drones flying over solar panel farms, to identify problem areas;
  • Wells Fargo is using A.I. for increased personalization, to help identify customer financial needs;
  • Boeing is using A.I. both to improve airplane performance—optimizing runway landings and fuel usage—and to help in airplane construction, use digital twins to explore edge cases.
  • Accenture has used A.I. to do image recognition in the Madrid subway system, to help predict loads and usage patterns.

Joe Depa, Accenture’s global lead for data-led transformation, says adoption of A.I. “has gone exponential in the last 12 months.” The pandemic accelerated the move to cloud, which in turn is facilitating data collection and analysis. Interestingly, the panel agreed that the two biggest remaining obstacles to adoption are not technology issues, but rather:

  • People and culture—“It’s less about the technology, and more about the team that has to deliver the technology,” said Bonnie Titone, chief information officer at Duke Energy.
  • Dirty data—“You need clean fuel to make the engine run,” said Sandra Nudelman, head of consumer data at Wells Fargo.

The panelists agreed that A.I. adoption used to be driven by CTOs and CIOs, but “now, I think we all would agree, it has become a CEO, and even a boardroom, priority,” said Accenture’s Depa. Boeing CIO Susan Doniz advised companies just beginning their A.I. journey to “narrowly define your use case…Don’t make it so big that you drown under it…Make it small enough to be manageable, but big enough to be meaningful.”

The Brainstorm A.I. main event, which is being held in partnership with Accenture, is Nov. 8-9 in Boston. Attendees include CEOs such as Noubar Afeyan of Flagship Pioneering and Jim Loree of Stanley Black and Decker; A.I. pioneers such as Andrew Ng of Landing AI and Margaret Mitchell of Ethical AI; investors such as Sunil Dhaliwal of Amplify Partners and Reed Sturtevant of The Engine; and top technologists from a broad range of companies including Twitter, Lululemon, Darktrace, DoorDash, Honeywell, Synchrony, Dow, PepsiCo, Kellogg, Dell, and more. For more information, or to apply to attend, go here

Other news below. And don’t miss Ellen McGirt’s and my Leadership Next podcast interview with former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi on the challenges of being a successful CEO and a successful mother. You can listen on Apple or Spotify.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

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AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Big Tech cowardice

A chilling piece here on Google and Apple's obedience in Russia, when the Kremlin demanded they delete opposition apps at election time: "In July, Putin signed a law that requires foreign information technology companies operating in the Russian market to open offices in the country. The Kremlin would say this is to ensure compliance with Russian national security laws, but it’s really about getting bodies on the ground to bully…While these tech companies purport to augment the freedoms of those living under autocratic rule, their cowardice in Russia has made Russians less free." Wired

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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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