July 23, 2024

Amid the rapid uptake of generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) tools, many executives plan to increase their investment in gen AI as they expect it to exert significant effects on their industries and workforces, according to new research.

A newly released McKinsey global survey on the current state of AI confirms the explosive growth of gen AI, described as algorithms (such as ChatGPT) that can be used to create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, and videos.

Less than a year after many of these tools debuted, one-third of McKinsey’s survey respondents say their organizations are using gen AI regularly in at least one business function.

The most commonly reported business functions using these newer tools are marketing and sales, product and service development, and service operations such as customer care and back-office support.

Marketing and sales usage includes crafting first drafts of text documents, personalized marketing, and summarizing text documents.

Uses of gen AI in product and service development include identifying trends in customer needs, drafting technical documents, and creating new product designs.

Service operations uses include use of chatbots, forecasting service trends or anomalies, and creating first drafts of documents.

Moreover, nearly one-quarter of surveyed executives say they are personally using gen AI tools for work, and more than one-quarter of respondents from companies using AI say gen AI is already on their boards’ agendas.

About 40 percent of those reporting AI adoption at their organizations say their companies expect to invest more in AI in the years ahead as they continue to see returns in the business areas in which they are using AI.

“We see a majority of respondents reporting AI-related revenue increases within each business function using AI. And looking ahead, more than two-thirds expect their organizations to increase their AI investment over the next three years,” said the paper.

The survey also found that expected business disruption from gen AI is significant, with respondents expecting the new capabilities to transform their industries and gen AI to cause significant or disruptive change in the nature of their industry’s competition in the next three years.

Survey respondents working in the technology and financial-services industries are the most likely to expect disruptive change from gen AI. McKinsey estimates suggest that tech companies are poised to see the highest impact from gen AI by adding value equivalent to as much as nine percent of global industry revenue.

However, knowledge-based industries such as banking, pharmaceuticals and medical products, and education could experience significant effects as well.

At the same time, respondents predict meaningful changes to their workforces. They anticipate workforce cuts in certain areas and large reskilling efforts to address shifting talent needs.

Survey results show changes in the roles that organizations are filling to support their AI ambitions. In the past year, organizations using AI most often hired data engineers, machine learning engineers, and Al data scientists. Roles in prompt engineering have recently emerged, as the need for that skill set rises alongside gen AI adoption.

The online survey was conducted in April 2023 and garnered responses from nearly 1,700 participants representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties, and tenures. – Press release