AI and Gen AI to boost worker productivity and disrupt industries

23 October 2023 5 min. read
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Over two thirds of workers worldwide expect artificial intelligence (AI) to boost their productivity by 20% or more, according to a new report by Bain & Company.

Exploring how AI is set to alter the make-up of industries and jobs, global consulting firm Bain & Company asked over 570 executives from all corners of the globe to share their expectations about the rapidly emerging technology.

Overall, executives are optimistic on AI’s potential value-added. The technology promises to improve productivity across industries and business functions, with some estimating that about 20% of all work tasks could be completed faster and at equal quality.

AI and Gen AI to boost worker productivity and disrupt industries - chart1

Given AI’s productivity gains are accessible to every company, companies will – feeling the competitive pressure – reinvest most of the gains back into the business. “Only a small portion may flow to the bottom line, most is likely to be reinvested in building new product – and building them faster,” said David Crawford, global head of Bain & Company’s Technology practice.

Use cases for AI are still in their infancy, said the report. Early results are currently being seen in areas including software development, sales and marketing, IT ticket resolution, HR talent acquisition, performance management, and customer contact centers and help desks.

Within these areas, 75% of the surveyed executives said AI has already met or exceeded their expectations.

Adoption pace by industry

“Innovative AI technologies, if employed correctly, can not only change the way we work and live but also present challenges that could disrupt industries in the future,” said Oliver Bittner, a partner at Bain & Company in the Middle East.

Adoption pace by industry

From an adoption perspective, the study found that 90% of system integrators are already using AI to differentiate their products or enhance their operations, closely followed by companies in marketing, advertising, and technology.

While many industries still have to play catch-up in terms of investments and maturity, Bittner said that “AI has the potential to transform nearly every industry worldwide.”

Generative AI

One key technology in the AI suite is generative AI, a technology that uses deep-learning models and algorithms to generate high-quality text, images, and other content based on inputted prompts. The field has seen a major breakthrough with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT late 2022.

Illustrating its fast-paced rise: just two months after its public release, ChatGPT had gained more than 100 million users, an adoption rate five times faster than that of previous champ TikTok. “Few technology revolutions have rolled out this quickly,” said Crawford.

Model training (floating point operations)

According to Bain & Company’s report, generative AI will disrupt work, although its impact will differ by industry and role, depending on the share of automatable and augmentative roles.

Software developers, for example, will become more efficient as AI-coding assistants supplement their efforts. Workers in other roles, such as customer support, technical field services, and sales and marketing, could all be augmented by generative artificial intelligence.

The dark side?

Generative AI, however, also introduces risks. For example, generative AI could lead to the mass creation of misleading or fake content, or models used for business decisions could amplify bias. There are also several data privacy and intellectual property concerns around generative AI.

Ethical considerations are another area of concern. Take deepfakes as an example. Generative models can now generate photorealistic images, videos and even sounds of persons. Such AI generated content can be difficult or impossible to distinguish from real media, posing serious ethical implications.

“This highlights the need for careful planning to ensure the AI is being utilised effectively,” said Bittner.

Generative AI will have differential impact, depending on the share of automatable and augmentative roles

There is also an economic risk, with generative AI possible of displacing many jobs in areas like writing, design, music, and more, although Middle East workers are among the least worried of this risk.

“There is no doubt that AI technology will continue to advance,” added Brahaim Laaidi, a partner at Bain & Company in the Middle East. “Therefore, it is important for businesses to not only stay one step ahead and be prepared to embrace these tools but also understand how they will impact their day-to-day operations and the daily lives of people.”

Recent research from McKinsey & Company (like Bain & Company a global strategy consultancy) suggested that the generative artificial intelligence industry could grow its economic value added to $4.4 trillion annually in the coming years.