Companies Are Rushing to Use AI—but Few See a Payoff

I find this type of article annoying and maybe you do too. Someone did a survey of executives at big companies and found that most of them aren't seeing much value from AI yet. Saved you a click.

So why link to it? I think there's specifically a problem with this type of survey, and it points to something bigger. The types of companies who benefit most from AI are often technology-first companies. FAANG, Spotify, Stitch Fix, Airbnb, etc. While certainly a part of this is about talent—and those companies have a lions' share of it—I think it's more importantly about business model. I don't believe you just take a fundamentally industrial-age company and just slap AI on top of it and—voila!—profit. I think the companies benefiting from it most have architected how value is provided from the beginning to the end of their operations with AI at the heart. Netflix's entire content strategy (and thus corporate strategy) is centered around their recommendation algorithm. get the point.

If AI is to have the huge impact that I believe it will, most of that impact will not come through "transformation" efforts at existing large companies. It will come through the creation of brand new companies built from the ground up with AI at their core. And so, asking a bunch of large existing businesses whether AI is having a positive impact has an inherent sampling bias—the impact it's going to have on many/most of them is to threaten their market share. If you want to get a more interesting answer, ask how AI is impacting its business.

IMHO, one of the questions that a data scientist should be asking before taking a job is: "Is AI at the heart of this company's value to its customer or am I just being bolted on?"


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