The AI revolution has arrived in physical operations

Samsara’s latest State of Connected Operations Report reveals majority of leaders see AI as a competitive advantage and are already realizing positive ROI across safety and productivity.

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Samsara has published its latest State of Connected Operations Report — Smarter, Faster, Safer: The AI Revolution in Physical Operations — providing insights into how the organizations that drive more than 40% of the global GDP are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance safety, maximize efficiency, and empower their employees. With perspectives from more than 1,500 physical operations leaders across seven countries, the report reveals how AI is already revolutionizing how these organizations operate — and how leaders are transforming their operations and unlocking new efficiencies. This original research found that 94% of operations leaders surveyed believe their organization needs to invest in AI technology solutions to keep up in today’s environment.

“AI is everywhere, and physical operations leaders are quickly embracing it,” said Evan Welbourne, Head of AI and Data at Samsara. “When used strategically, advances in AI can bring meaningful change to the companies that power our global economy. For example, it can reduce costs, boost efficiency, and even save workers' lives in the field.”

AI investment is on the rise.

While some industries are slower to adopt AI, organizations within physical operations are embracing it, viewing it as a market-tested technology whose utility is proven and expanding. Nearly all (94%) leaders believe AI technology is vital to keep up, and 87% of organizations say they plan to increase investments in AI within the next 12 months. With continued pressures around labor shortages, geopolitical conflicts, and reshoring, technology will be key as organizations face these challenges.

The use of AI is growing in physical operations — and employees see that as a good thing.

AI is not seen just as an experimental technology for the industries that keep the global economy running smoothly. More than half (51%) of leaders surveyed say their organization is already using AI, and reported benefits include improved safety (45%) and employee productivity (42%). Leadership roles are not the only ones within these organizations that are bullish on AI — 90% of those already using AI say their employees feel positive about it. This may be because workers are seeing the direct benefit these solutions have on their day-to-day lives through enhanced workplace safety and efficiency.

Security and data privacy come first.

It takes massive amounts of data to train AI models, representing a huge responsibility — and risk — for any organization. Physical operations leaders are not cutting corners. Of those already using AI or planning to in the next 1-2 years, 58% are implementing privacy and data protection measures. For the 63% of organizations that plan to adopt AI solutions created by external technology partners, security is not to be sacrificed for functionality. 52% of leaders said they care most about a partner’s ability to integrate with existing systems, with security and privacy compliance (51%) also ranking high.

“Not all AI solutions are created equal,” says Welbourne. “You have to be able to trust the system, and that means finding a technology partner who not only has a proven track record with responsible innovation, but who also deeply understands your business and the challenges you’re up against.”

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