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In a recent MIT Technology Review Insights survey in July and August 2023, 1,000 business leaders from a diverse range of industries shared their perspectives on implementing generative AI technologies. According to the study, business leaders have acknowledged artificial intelligence’s power but have shown a cautious approach to generative AI adoption. The survey encompassed consumer goods and retail, financial services, manufacturing, pharma and health care, and more.
Generative AI is currently at the intersection of legal, cybersecurity, and workforce concerns, testing the boundaries of copyright and intellectual property, creating new data governance threats, and sparking automation anxiety in the labor force.
Business executives overwhelmingly acknowledge the transformational potential of generative AI. A staggering 96% of firms participating in the survey believe that generative AI will impact their operations. However, a mere 9% have fully deployed a generative AI use case within their organizations, indicating a cautious and wait-and-see approach to adoption.
Collaboration will be the key to successfully scaling generative AI for many companies. A significant 75% of executives plan to collaborate with partners, including startups and major tech players, to integrate generative AI on a large scale. Notably, only 10% consider partnering to be a top implementation challenge, suggesting that a robust ecosystem of providers and services is available for collaborative efforts.
The survey dispels the notion that generative AI adoption is limited by company size. Company revenue does not appear to be decisive in determining a firm’s inclination to experiment with generative AI. Small companies with annual revenue under $500 million were three times more likely than mid-sized enterprises ($500 million to $1 billion) to have already deployed a generative AI use case (13% versus 4%).
Approximately one-quarter of survey respondents expect generative AI’s primary effect to be reducing their workforce. This figure varies across sectors, with industrial industries such as energy and utilities (43%), manufacturing (34%), and transport and logistics (31%) showing higher numbers. In contrast, the impact was less pronounced in IT and telecommunications, where only 7% anticipated workforce reduction. These findings indicate a cautious optimism regarding generative AI’s effect on employment rather than more dystopian job replacement scenarios.
While regulatory discussions are underway, uncertainty is the most significant challenge businesses face when adopting generative AI. A considerable 40% of business leaders identify regulatory uncertainty as a primary obstacle to the adoption of generative AI.
Laurel Ruma, the Global Editorial Director at MIT Technology Review Insights, noted, “Business leaders are cautiously pursuing the transformative potential of generative AI, with nearly all respondents acknowledging its impact on their businesses. However, only a small fraction have fully embraced generative AI use cases, highlighting a measured approach to implementation. Workforce implications vary across industries, and while regulation looms, uncertainty is today’s primary challenge.”
This survey offers valuable insights into the current landscape of generative AI adoption, demonstrating that while the potential is widely recognized, a measured approach is being taken to navigate the evolving challenges in this dynamic field.