New MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group Research Shows That Using AI Can Produce Cultural and Financial Business Benefits That Build on Each Other
CAMBRIDGE—More than 75% of managers who reported that their artificial intelligence implementations improved their team’s decision making and efficiency also saw improvements in collective learning (87%), team morale (79%), and collaboration (78%), according to the just-released MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) 2021 global study “The Cultural Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise.”
In its fifth consecutive year, this longitudinal examination of cross-industry AI adoption identifies a wide range of AI-related cultural benefits at both team and organizational levels.
Key study findings include:
“Most companies still have a long way to go to generate substantial financial benefits with AI,” says Sam Ransbotham, a professor in the information system department of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, an MIT SMR guest editor, and a report coauthor. “Those who do obtain significant financial benefits often have learned how to culturally benefit from AI and how to use AI to glean financial rewards. Our research suggests that these are connected, not separate, activities.”
“Successful organizations have moved beyond using AI just to improve their current business and processes,” says François Candelon, senior partner and managing director at BCG and global director of the BCG Henderson Institute. “They are now harnessing the power of AI to uncover new business opportunities to create competitive advantage.”
“Culture change is often necessary to adopt AI, and adopting AI can improve culture,” says David Kiron, editorial director at MIT SMR and a report coauthor. “But AI adoption won’t happen if your culture rejects AI tools. Cultural acceptance of AI begins with trust. Building that trust depends on teaching and training workers, explaining the reasons for AI recommendations, and providing AI tools that solve problems.”
Shervin Khodabandeh, a senior partner and managing director at BCG and the coleader of BCG GAMMA (BCG’s AI practice) in North America, adds, “Given how effective AI has proved to be at the team and cultural levels, it is imperative that leaders within companies find ways to translate that more broadly to the organizational level. Furthermore, AI can become a managerial tool to align micro behavior with broader goals, including societal purpose, equity, and inclusivity.”
This MIT SMR-BCG annual global study is based on a survey of 2,197 managers across 111 countries and 29 industries, plus 18 in-depth executive interviews, aimed at understanding how business culture affects AI deployments, and AI deployments affect business culture. Interviews were conducted with leading experts from Pernod Ricard, CBS, Northwestern Mutual, Rexel, Humana, KLM, McDonald’s, H&M, Nasdaq, Moderna, Spotify, PepsiCo, Levi Strauss, Cooper Standard, the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab, 1-800-Flowers, and Mastercard.
Along with the report, MIT SMR and BCG have launched Season 3 of the popular executive-interview podcast series Me, Myself, and AI, in which report coauthors Ransbotham and Khodabandeh talk to leaders successfully leveraging AI in their companies to learn how they did it and what cultural benefits ensued. The first two episodes, featuring Wharton School professor Kartik Hosanagar and ExxonMobil’s AI for IT operations manager Sarah Karthigan, are available on all major podcast platforms.
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MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) is an independent, research-based magazine and digital platform for business leaders, published at the MIT Sloan School of Management. MIT SMR explores how leadership and management are transforming in a disruptive world. We help thoughtful leaders capture the exciting opportunities — and face down the challenges — created as technological, societal, and environmental forces reshape how organizations operate, compete, and create value.
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