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Energy, Utilities & Mining

Energy executives see more AI opportunity than risk in 2021

The energy industry (oil and gas and electric utilities) has made strides in digitizing operations over the years. Now most businesses in the sector are beginning to use AI applications to get the most out of the data collected through these initiatives. And the pandemic has accelerated efforts for many companies (44%). 

Less than one-third (28%) of energy executives say they have some processes that are fully enabled by AI and widely adopted in their business; an additional 29% say they have begun implementing limited AI use cases. And, most of those businesses now applying AI are reporting favorable outcomes. Nearly two-thirds (67%) of energy executives are realizing AI’s benefits in creating better customer experiences, 55% in improved decision making and 53% in innovating products and services. Specifically, AI use cases energy leaders believe will be the most important in 2021 include: performing predictive maintenance (35%); automating routine tasks (33%); and analyzing scenarios using simulation modeling (31%).

Bar chart titled
Where the pandemic accelerated AI approaches
Energy companies
All companies
Exploring new use cases for AI
%
%
Investing more in AI development and resources
%
%
COVID-19 pandemic has created new ways to show AI’s value at my company
%
%
AI has become a greater priority for my company
%
%
Moving our AI initiatives from experimental to operational
%
%
Q: What elements of your company’s AI approach have been affected by this acceleration? Source: PwC AI Predictions 2021. Base: 34 executives whose companies have accelerated their AI approach because of COVID-19

The energy sector also is mindful of the potential risks AI poses, with one-third (33%) of leaders agreeing that AI could usher in new cyber threats over the next five years and 41% agreeing it could create new privacy threats. Despite these concerns, the lion’s share of energy leaders (83%) nevertheless agree that AI will create more opportunities than challenges for their company in 2021.

Energy, Utilities and Mining

Energy, Utilities and Mining

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Casey Herman

US ESG Leader, Chicago, PwC US

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Anand Rao

Global AI Lead; US Innovation Lead, Emerging Technology Group, Boston, PwC US

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