McKinsey survey: AI boosts revenue, but companies struggle to scale use


The latest McKinsey Global Survey released today found that artificial intelligence is having a positive impact on business outcomes, with 63% of respondents reporting an increase in revenue after adoption of the technology. However, only 30% of companies apply AI to multiple business units, up from 21% last year.

Still, overall AI adoption is on the rise — in standard business practices it’s up near 25%, according to the online survey of 2,360 business leaders from a range of industries and global regions.

The report also found a number of striking differences between companies deploying several AI systems to business operations and those that are not.

Companies that are considered high performers or AI power users by the study on average apply the technology to 11 use cases compared to three use cases at other companies using machine intelligence. The high performers were also more likely to report revenue increases from AI applications of over 10%.

“Overall, 44% of respondents report cost savings from AI adoption in the business units where it’s deployed, with respondents from high performers more than 4 times likelier than others to say AI adoption has decreased business units’ costs by at least 10%, on average,” the report reads.

Revenue growth was most likely to come from AI applications in marketing, sales, supply chain management, and product development.

That result echoes a Microsoft-commissioned business executive study released earlier this year about the AI opportunity gap. It’s also in line with an Accenture study that found roughly 16% or more of companies have figured out how to deploy AI at scale and more than 70% of companies risk being put out of business by competitors applying AI at scale.

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More than 80% of respondents said they plan to retrain a portion of their workforce in the next three years, but high-performance AI companies were more likely to have retrained many of their employees in the past year.

“Seventy-two percent of respondents from AI high performers say their companies’ AI strategy aligns with their corporate strategy, compared with 29% of respondents from other companies. Similarly, 65% from the high performers report having a clear data strategy that supports and enables AI, compared with 20% from other companies,” the report reads.

High-performing AI companies also differ from others when it comes to attitudes about AI risks like equity and fairness, physical safety, cybersecurity, and national security.

According to the survey, 80% of high-performance respondents consider the risks to personal privacy compared to less than half of all other respondents.

On the subject of risk, 39% of respondents recognized a need for explainability, but only 21% said they’re actively addressing the issue.

Job loss

AI has not resulted in recent major job loss, as more than a third of total respondents reported less than a 3% change in their workforce, and only 5% of respondents reported a change greater than 10%.

But that could change, as 34% of respondents said they expect AI will decrease the size of their workforce. Conversely, 21% of respondents said they expect AI will grow the size of their workforce. Respondents from telecom or automotive industries have seen the deepest job cuts due to AI and are expected to lead in this category in the future, according to the report.

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A Brookings Institution report released earlier this week found that AI exposure is highest among high-wage, white collar jobs like tech, while industries like food service, education, and health care are virtually immune to positive or negative impacts of AI.



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