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Rackspace Survey Reveals AI/ML Adoption Challenges


Rackspace’s latest global survey reveals the majority of organizations worldwide lack the internal resources to support critical artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) initiatives.

The survey, “Are Organizations Succeeding at AI and ML?” was conducted by Rackspace, a Top 250 Public Cloud MSP, and Coleman Parkes Research in the Americas, APJ and EMEA regions of the world. The survey, conducted in December 2020 and January 2021, is based on the responses of 1,870 IT decision makers across manufacturing, digital native, financial services, retail, government/public sector and healthcare.

The study asked these decision makers questions about their organization’s AI and ML adoption, usage, benefits, impact and future plans for the technology.

Rackspace Survey Reveals Orgs Struggle to Adopt AI/ML

The results indicate that, while many organizations are eager to incorporate AI and ML tactics into operations, they typically lack the expertise and existing infrastructure needed to implement mature and successful AI/ML programs, according to the survey.

Only 17 percent of respondents report they have mature AI and ML capabilities with a model factory framework in place. The majority of respondents (82 percent) said they are still exploring how to implement AI, or struggling to operationalize AI and ML models.

More than one-third (34 percent) of respondents reported AI R&D initiatives that have been tested and that were abandoned or failed. The top causes of failure cited by respondents include lack of data quality (34 percent), lack of expertise within the organization (34 percent), lack of production-ready data (31 percent) and poorly conceived strategy (31 percent).

If these challenges can be overcome, though, AI/ML implementation has clear benefits, the survey showed. Organizations see AI and ML potential in a variety of business units, most notably in IT (43 percent), operations (33 percent), customer service (32 percent) and finance (32 percent). Organizations that have successfully implemented AI and ML programs report increased productivity (33 percent) and improved customer satisfaction (32 percent) as the top benefits they see.

To Achieve AI/ML Benefits, Find a Trusted Partner

Tolga Tarhan, CTO, Rackspace Technology
Tolga Tarhan, CTO, Rackspace Technology

The survey highlights the challenges in balancing the potential benefits of AI and ML against getting AI/ML initiatives off the ground. While some early adopters are already seeing the benefits of these technologies, others are still trying to navigate common pain points such as lack of internal knowledge, outdated technology stacks, poor data quality or the inability to measure ROI, according to the study.

Organizations turn to trusted partners to help them with these initiatives, highlighting the potential for MSPs and other service providers in this area. Many organizations are still determining whether they will build internal AI/ML support or outsource it to a trusted partner. But given the high risk of implementation failure, the majority of organizations (62 percent) are, to some degree, working with an experienced provider to navigate the complexities of AI and ML development.

“In nearly every industry, we’re seeing IT decision makers turn to artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction,” said Tolga Tarhan, chief technology officer at Rackspace Technology (RXT). “But before diving headfirst into an AI/ML initiative, we advise customers to clean their data and data processes — in other words, get the right data into the right systems in a reliable and cost-effective manner. At Rackspace Technology, we’re proud to provide the expertise and strategy necessary to ensure AI/ML projects move beyond the R&D stage and into initiatives with long-term impacts.”