PwC Research Reveals Media Execs’ Reluctance to Adopt AI

Media companies continue to adopt a variety of digital technologies, but have proven to be more reluctant than other industry sectors to embrace artificial intelligence. That’s the finding of PwC, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. executives for its “2019 AI Predictions” report. Covering many industry sectors, the research revealed that 20 percent of these companies plan to deploy AI next year. But media companies are still in the very early stages of enabling AI, and only a few with an AI business case.

Variety reports that the PwC research shows “hardly any have projects currently in process” and only 7 percent of media executives are making “substantial” AI investments.

“AI has been a hot topic, but it’s not in production as much as you think,” said PwC new services and emerging technology leader Scott Likens. “There’s still mystery about emerging technologies among business executives.”

Executives in media, tech and telecommunications revealed that cyberthreats are their top concern with regard to AI. “We automatically don’t trust something we don’t understand, even if it’s better,” said Likens.

The executives also are uncertain “how AI can be used to improve efficiencies and create new revenue opportunities.” Likens agreed that, “the benefits of AI applications can be intangible,” making it difficult, for example, to “measure the extent to which an AI-powered personalization feature for content results in a better overall customer experience.”

The PwC research also revealed that, among media executives, a mere 12 percent believe AI will be the “most disruptive” emerging technology in the next three years. Of that 12 percent, “19 percent said they expect AI will help cut costs, 5 percent said it will boost productivity, and 3 percent said it will improve customer experience.”

Likens noted that one of the biggest challenges going forward is changing the organization’s culture. “Changing process takes a lot of time,” he said. “Upskilling the workforce is difficult. There’s knowledge on both sides that has to come together — that includes people with AI domain expertise and business people.”

Still, AI can reduce costs with applications like automated call centers and customer service, and used “in conjunction with other technologies can produce big wins.”

“We think the convergence of emerging tech is where it’s at,” Likens said.