Technology

Nearly 80% of large Latin American companies use AI, says MIT

In 2019, four out of five companies in the region launched AI initiatives, says MIT Technology Review

Photo: MIT Technology Review, The global AI Agenda: Latin America
  • In three years, logistics and supply chain industries will be where the region’s most widely applies AI;
  • 55% of respondents point customer service as their main AI application so far;
  • 83% of Brazilian consumers said they would trust banking advice entirely generated by a computer.

The use of technology, especially Artificial Intelligence, in business has grown: nearly 80% of large Latin American companies use AI, according to MIT Technology Review Insights. Last year, four out of five companies in the region launched AI initiatives. And by 2022, AI will be used in 21% to 40% of business processes at 2/3 of enterprises.

According to the survey, AI early results show benefits, primarily to operational efficiency and management decision-making, but it also ponders that even though Latin America has a robust ecosystem of startups, a lack of talent and the high cost of technology remain obstacles to AI in the region.

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The report is part of The Global AI Agenda, a leadership program by MIT Technology Review Insights examining how organizations are using AI today and planning to do so in the future. It features a global survey of 1,004 AI experts conducted in January and February 2020.

Latin American consumers are broadly positive about AI in customer service channels, says MIT. One survey found that 83% of Brazilian consumers said they would trust banking advice entirely generated by a computer, compared to a global average of 71%.

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According to the research, Latin America’s AI ecosystem is beginning to emerge, with startups and large companies deploying data analytics to tackle critical issues facing the region, including food security, smart cities, natural resources, and unemployment. Global AI giants are building their research ties to the region, evidenced most recently in a new collaboration between the São Paulo State Research Foundation (Fapesp) and IBM.

Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, have penned, or are now developing, official national AI strategies. One study of five economies (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru) predicts that AI could add up to an entire percentage point to the region’s annual economic growth by 2035, yielding the largest benefit for Brazil, culminating in an additional $432 billion to gross value added in 2035.

Thus, Latin America’s AI ecosystem would benefit from greater policy continuity and regional collaboration as many countries in the region have developed or are developing national AI plans, but political volatility is interrupting or limiting policy continuity. “A second challenge is the region’s limited voice and participation in the development of global AI governance and ethics frameworks; experts are concerned that the dominance of other blocs, especially the EU, could result in frameworks that are harder for Latin American companies to adhere to”, says MIT’s report.  

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It also shows that future AI investments will target sales and marketing and logistics and supply chain in the region: 55% of respondents cite customer service as their main AI application so far, and evidence across Latin America shows innovations like chat bots and AI-driven customer analytics in sectors including banking, air travel, transport, and e-commerce, says the report. Two years from now, the number of companies using AI in sales and marketing and in logistics and supply chain will double. In three years, logistics and supply chain will be the region’s most widely applied AI use case.