A majority of global companies have invested in artificial intelligence technology to support innovation, but less than half are satisfied with the results, according to a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group.
Successful AI investments tend to have a clearly articulated purpose, among other advantages, according to the annual innovation study by BCG, a global management consulting firm.
“Obviously, you can end up doing a lot of activities that are interesting but not really creating value,” Michael Ringel, BCG managing director and senior partner, said in an interview.
Despite global economic uncertainty, innovation rose as a leading corporate priority in 2023, with 79% of companies ranking it among their top three goals, BCG found. This is up from 75% in 2022 and close to 2019’s high of 82%.
As the economy slows the growth of some companies in core markets, the importance of being able to develop new products and services has increased, according to the research.
AI ranked as the top technology (61%) attracting business investments, followed by robotics and process automation (46%); internet of things and edge computing (44%); and blockchain (29%).
Leading use cases for AI included: making portfolio prioritization decisions; identifying players with external innovation potential; and revealing market trends and competitor activities.
Only 45% of respondents said their organization’s AI investments have led to a successful business impact.
When the CEO personally articulates the purpose of innovation for the organization, the likelihood of the company achieving such an impact from an AI investment nearly doubles, the report said. Other success factors include having established digital and data capabilities and “robust innovation funnels that both incubate new ideas and rigorously prioritize investment,” it said.
“The question isn’t whether AI can have an impact,” the study said. “While technical challenges that may prevent achieving full value persist, many companies have realized some benefit — and often with minimal investment. It’s more a matter of whether companies are using AI properly and for use cases with the potential to drive real business value.”
BCG polled more than 1,000 global executives in December 2022 and January 2023.