Artificial intelligence is fully emerging as one of marketing and comms’ most powerful tools, with recent reports foretelling AI’s potential to give communicators massive power over consumer data and revolutionize customer experience practices. But what’s the real picture look like for AI, and where are we now with regard to realizing its potential?
A new global study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) dispels some key myths around AI. For example, one myth suggests that easily documented cost savings is a main driver for further investment, the myth-dispelling finding here is that all but the most passive organizations anticipate AI will pay off most on the revenue-generating side.
The study, Artificial Intelligence in Business Gets Real, splits the organizations surveyed into four groups: (1) Pioneers are enterprises that have extensive understanding of AI tools and concepts and significant levels of AI adoption. (2) Investigators understand AI but have limited adoption. (3) Experimenters have adopted AI but with limited understanding of it. (4) Passives have limited adoption and understanding of AI.
The other myths the study contradicted include:
Myth: The benefits of AI are perpetually just out of reach
Reality: AI is currently providing real value in real organizations, not just lab demonstrations in technology organizations.
Myth: Widely available sophisticated AI tools will level the playing field
Reality: Fully 88 percent of Pioneers invested more in AI than in the previous year, compared with 62 percent of other groups. Pioneers are widening the gap with others.
Myth: Companies that see success with AI flourish via small-scale experiments, letting a thousand flowers bloom
Reality: AI leaders are creating strategies for taking AI to industrial scale. Fully 85 percent of pioneers agree they have an urgent need for an AI strategy, and 90 percent say they have a strategy in place already.
Myth: Senior managers view AI as a tool that will help them achieve workforce reductions
Reality: A total of 47 percent of responders say they expect workforce reductions due to AI, but only 38 percent of the CEOs surveyed have that expectation.
“The companies that see the potential and opportunities with artificial intelligence are deepening their commitment,” said David Kiron, executive editor of MIT SMR and coauthor, in a news release. “They’re following a thoughtful strategy, and they’re growing their teams to consolidate their leadership in this area.”
“Pioneers move beyond individual AI use-cases toward AI at scale,” added coauthor Philipp Gerbert, senior partner and leader of AI in Business for BCG, in the release. “To reap the benefits of AI, they have started to transform their businesses.”
The study is based on findings from the second annual global survey of more than 3,000 business executives, managers, and analysts from organizations around the world. The survey, conducted in spring 2018, captured insights from individuals working in organizations of various sizes, spread across 29 industries and located in 126 countries, and supplemented by 35 executive interviews.