Ten Keys to AI Success 2020: Meet the Top Players

December 5, 2019
· 3 min read

AI has taken the world by storm. Organizations around the world and across industries are ready to embed AI across their teams and business functions. Yet, despite the increased adoption of AI, recent research from IDC has found “that half of AI projects fail for one in four  companies on average,” and “the two leading reasons for an AI project failing are a lack of required skills and unrealistic expectations.” (Artificial Intelligence Global Adoption Trends and Strategies, June 2019). Clearly, there is so much potential here, but numerous obstacles are preventing organizations from experiencing the transformative power of AI.

As a new decade begins, DataRobot wants to enable all organizations to become fully AI-driven, and we want to help accelerate this journey for enterprises around the world. Towards this end, we met with industry leaders to compile a list of the ten keys to AI success in 2020. Our findings reveal the challenges and successes organizations have had with AI and how companies have leveraged what they’ve learned to drive future AI success.

So, who are the main players in this new decade of AI success? This report focuses on a few key roles and the important part they play in achieving AI success:

  • Executives
  • Early Adopters
  • Team Players


If you want your organization to become AI-driven, executive buy-in is critical. Executives need to understand how AI can support their business in order to effectively lead the charge and set the tone for the rest of the company. If executives don’t feel that they understand AI, they won’t feel comfortable bringing it into their organization. As a result, specialized executive roles, such as Chief Digital Officer or Chief Analytics Officer, have been emerging to provide technical insight and help drive adoption across the business.

There are several barriers within organizations that can prevent executives from effectively implementing AI solutions. For example, global companies that have multiple divisions spread out across different locations may face challenges with getting everyone on the same page. Large international enterprises are complex and difficult to navigate. “Politics is our biggest challenge, multiple groups, different countries,” explains an executive from an electronics company. Effective executive sponsorship is the only way to break through these barriers.

Early Adopters

As the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm.” This “early bird” mentality is exactly what makes early adopters of AI crucial to success. Going into the unknown can be daunting, but businesses who do their research and believe in the value of AI will benefit, whereas those who are slower to adopt — or don’t adopt at all — will fall behind.

Despite the potential for enormous value from AI, McKinsey observes that “many organizations’ efforts are falling short, with a majority of companies only piloting AI or using it in a single business process—and thus gaining only incremental benefits.” It’s not enough simply to pilot a program or apply AI to only a single use case. What sets early adopters apart as leaders of the AI revolution is a thorough commitment to AI adoption across the entire business.

Team Players

AI adoption can transform every area of a business, ranging from marketing efforts to customer experience. And in a world where the supply of data scientists doesn’t meet the demand for AI solutions, every player counts and can make a difference. To build all the AI that a company needs in order to beat its competitors means that everyone must get on a team and contribute.

We see this in the rise of the citizen data scientists who bridge the gap between data science knowledge and business insight. “Our data scientists trained all the other experts to be citizen data scientists. In six months, we had an expert team of 50 people,” explains a Chief Data and Analytics Officer from the insurance services sector. Automation enables even more non-technical people to leverage AI, further driving the democratization of data science.

AI in 2020 is for Everyone

In 2020, everyone can be a key player in AI success. Executives set the tone for AI adoption and implementation across an organization, early adopters ensure survival in the AI revolution, and automation empowers the new wave of non-traditional citizen data scientists. Our report has much more to share about how to become an AI-driven enterprise and how to drive AI success in 2020.

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About the author
Bill Hobbib
Bill Hobbib

VP of Marketing at DataRobot

Bill is responsible for global marketing with over 25 years of experience marketing disruptive technologies to organizations of all sizes, including more than a decade in the data management, analytics, and SaaS space. Prior to joining DataRobot, Bill held marketing leadership roles at innovative software companies including Oracle, Bullhorn, Endeca (acquired by Oracle), Ascential Software (acquired by IBM), and StreamBase (acquired by Tibco). Bill has a BS in Computer Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Meet Bill Hobbib
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