A new survey suggests Salesforce and SAP have an early lead over Amazon and Google in the next frontier in tech (CRM, AMZN, GOOGL, MSFT, SAP)

Cloud giants Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are all touting their artificial intelligence bona fides.

But the companies that are already embracing AI technologies are more frequently turning to the likes of SAP and Salesforce for such capabilities.

Deloitte

Although many of those early adopter corporations are tapping into the AI technologies of the cloud service providers, more of them are getting such features from enterprise software companies, according to a new study from consulting firm Deloitte. For many corporations, that’s “perhaps the easiest path” to incorporating AI into their businesses, analysts Jeff Loucks, Tom Davenport, and David Schatsky said in the report.

“These systems have the advantage of access to immense data sets (often their own customers’ data), and can often be used ‘out of the box’ by employees with no specialized knowledge,” they said.

For the study, Deloitte in the third quarter surveyed some 1,100 executives at US companies representing 10 different industries. All those surveyed represented companies that are already testing or using AI in at least one of their business functions.

Some 59% of those surveyed said they were using AI from the provider of their customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, or other enterprise software. Among the enterprise software firms that offer such capabilities is Salesforce, whose Salesforce Einstein can help companies identify which potential clients are most likely to sign up as customers; and SAP, whose Leonard machine learning technology can help companies analyze their data.

Still, many of the AI earlier adopters are also tapping into the capabilities of the cloud vendors such as Amazon and Google. That was the third most popular method of getting access to such technologies, cited by some 49% of those surveyed.

In many cases, though, executives at the early adopters indicated that they feel a need to develop their own AI technologies, rather than relying on those solely created by other companies. The second most popular way executives named for developing or acquiring AI was to codevelop it with partners; 53% of those surveyed said that was what their companies were doing. Meanwhile, some 49% of companies said they were using open-source tools to develop AI capabilities, and 39% said they were using crowdsourcing services.

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