AI starting to generate positive value for organisations globally, says McKinsey study

AI starting to generate positive value for organisations globally, says McKinsey study

AI can offer significant value during this pandemic

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While still in the nascent stages, two-thirds of global respondents in a ‘State of AI in 2020’ McKinsey study say that AI adoption has increased revenue for their companies.  

A smaller contingent of respondents (22%) attribute five percent or more of their organisations’ enterprise-wide EBIT in 2019 was attributable to their use of AI, with almost half, or 48%, reporting less than five percent. 

The leading business functions typically used for AI include service operations, product or service development, and marketing and sales.  

By industry, respondents in the high-tech and telecom sectors are again the most likely to report AI adoption. 

The use cases that most commonly led to cost decreases are optimisation of talent management, contact-centre automation, and warehouse automation. Over half of respondents who report adopting each of those say the use of AI in those areas reduced costs. 

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“We saw more companies driving revenues with AI rather than decreasing their costs—not because AI can’t effectively reduce costs. It’s also clear that we’re still in the early days of AI use in business, with less than a quarter of respondents seeing significant bottom-line impact” said Michael Chui, Partner, McKinsey Global Institute.” 

“This isn’t surprising—achieving impact at scale is still elusive for many companies, not only because of the technical challenges but also because of the organisational changes required. 

“We do think AI is worth the investment, but it requires effective execution to generate significant value, particularly at enterprise scale.”  

Cybersecurity remains the only risk that a majority of respondents say their organisations consider relevant 

Investing during the pandemic 

The companies surveyed seeing significant value from AI are continuing to invest in it during the pandemic. Most respondents at high performers say their organisations have increased investment in AI in each major business function in response to the pandemic 

Just 16% of respondents say their companies have taken deep learning beyond the piloting stage. Once again, high-tech and telecom companies are leading the charge, with 30% of respondents saying their companies have embedded deep-learning capabilities. 

Generally, respondents from companies that have adopted more AI capabilities are more likely to report seeing AI models misperform amid the COVID-19 pandemic than others are.  

Responses indicate that high-performing organisations, which tend to have adopted more AI capabilities than others, are witnessing more misperformance than companies seeing less value from AI.  

These high-performing organisations’ models were particularly vulnerable within marketing and sales, product development, and service operations  the areas where AI adoption is most commonly reported.  

The online survey was in the field from June 9 to June 19, 2020, and garnered responses from 2,395 participants representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties, and tenures. Of those respondents, 1,151 said their organisations had adopted AI in at least one function and were asked questions about their organisations’ AI use.  

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