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Process shortcomings a high hurdle for phasing in AI, survey finds

Dec. 5, 2023
New research by process miner Celonis reveals 72% of business leaders, including those in manufacturing, say they are actively trying to implement AI in their IT and OT operations but that process problems are proving to be a substantial barrier.

A large majority of business leaders (89%), including those in manufacturing, surveyed in newly released research reported they are implementing artificial intelligence into their operations, but most (72%) also worried that process shortcomings may hinder further AI implementation over the next two years.

The shortcomings highlight the need for process optimization—or the discipline of streamlining equipment parameters, operating procedures, and control processes, according to the 2023 Process Optimization Report published by Celonis, which specializes in process mining.

See also: With Industrial Copilot, Siemens and Schaeffler help make Gen-AI ‘industrial grade’

The survey findings, released Dec. 5, were contained in the Celonis report. The research work surveyed more than 1,200 business leaders worldwide.

“The potential of emerging technologies, including AI, is top of mind for every enterprise right now, and it’s clear that business leaders understand the need to optimize their processes to be able to harness that potential,” Alex Rinke, co-founder and co-CEO of Celonis, said in a release.

“However, they’re facing numerous barriers in doing so. Departments speak their own languages. Data and teams are siloed, systems don’t play well together, and processes are hard to see.”

Other findings from the research showed:

  • More than 80% surveyed said that processes are the lifeblood of their organizations.
  • Almost all (99%) consider process optimization to be essential to meet their business objectives.
  • 81% are either already investing in or planning to invest in process optimization technologies in the next three years.
  • 82% of the surveyed business leaders believe process excellence will emerge as a core business discipline within the next five years.
  • Also 82% said process optimization is important in times of economic instability, recognizing that it is one of the quickest ways to reduce expenditures and get cash flow under control.

The survey also identified five top factors in driving process optimization:

  1. Interest in harnessing emerging technologies such as AI (70%).
  2. Cutting costs (69%).
  3. Competitive pressure (64%).
  4. Changing customer expectations (64%).
  5. Compliance with legislation or regulation (64%).

The Celonis research was conducted by Insight Avenue, an independent business-to-business and technology research consultancy, with 1,217 interviews of senior business leaders worldwide across a range of sectors in August and September.

See also: Gen-AI leads back to reducing downtime on the line

The respondents' job functions included operations, process improvement, process excellence; IT and digital; supply chain, procurement, demand planning, logistics, and order management; and finance and shared services. They represented organizations with a minimum revenue of $500 million, with 85% having annual revenue above $2 billion.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl

I've come to Smart Industry after stints in business-to-business journalism covering U.S. trucking and transportation for FleetOwner, a sister website and magazine of SI’s at Endeavor Business Media, and branches of the U.S. military for Navy League of the United States. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism with many years of media experience inside and outside B2B journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit Smart Industry and report and write all kinds of news and interactive media on the digital transformation of manufacturing.