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

CAMBRIDGE, MA— A 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.
    Reality: A total of 47% of responders say they expect workforce reductions due to AI, but only 38% of the CEOs surveyed have that expectation.

”The companies that see the potential and opportunities with artificial intelligence are deepening their commitment,” said David Kiron, executive editor of MIT SMR and coauthor. “They’re following a thoughtful strategy, and they’re growing their teams to consolidate their leadership in this area.”

Added coauthor Philipp Gerbert, senior partner and leader of AI in Business for BCG, “Pioneers move beyond individual AI use-cases toward AI at scale. To reap the benefits of AI, they have started to transform their businesses.”

Visit MIT SMR to download and read the full report, or visit the MIT SMR-BCG initiative on AI.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Nidhi Sinha at +1 646 899 8218 or sinha.nidhi@bcg.com, or Deb Gallagher at +1 617 253 3967 or debg@mit.edu.

MIT Sloan Management Review

A media company based at the MIT Sloan School of ManagementMIT Sloan Management Review’s mission is to lead the conversation among research scholars, business executives, and other thought leaders about advances in management practice, particularly those shaped by technology, that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT Sloan Management Review captures for thoughtful managers the creativity, excitement, and opportunity generated by rapid organizational, technological, and societal change.

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we help clients with total transformation—inspiring complex change, enabling organizations to grow, building competitive advantage, and driving bottom-line impact.

To succeed, organizations must blend digital and human capabilities. Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives to spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting along with technology and design, corporate and digital ventures—and business purpose. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, generating results that allow our clients to thrive.

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