MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group Study Dispels Five Major Myths About Artificial Intelligence

Sep 18, 2018

new global study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) dispels some key myths around AI. For example, while easily documented cost savings are a classic way of garnering support for further investment, the finding here is that all but the most passive organizations anticipate AI will pay off most on the revenue-generating side.

The MIT SMR and BCG study, titled “Artificial Intelligence in Business Gets Real,” 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. The study 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 the following:

  • 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% of Pioneers invested more in AI than in the previous year, compared with 62% 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% of pioneers agree they have an urgent need for an AI strategy, and 90% say they have a strategy in place already.
  • Myth: Senior managers view AI as a tool that will help them achieve workforce reductions.
    A total of 47% of responders say they expect workforce reductions due to AI, but only 38% of the CEOs surveyed have that expectation.

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