Our collaboration with the FT and World Economic Forum explores how technological shifts are transforming industry, business and society.
Few concepts have the ability to generate perceptions of opportunity and threat in almost equal measure as artificial intelligence (AI).
Those who see it as enabling technology are busy working on how to apply it to tasks carried out by humans.
In the corporate world, many companies - such as British online grocer Ocado and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba - are already pioneering the application of AI to their businesses.
PwC estimates that global gross domestic product will be 14% higher in 2030 as a result of AI, specifically as a result of productivity gains from businesses automating processes and augmenting existing labour forces with AI technologies, as well as through increased consumer demand resulting from the availability of AI-enhanced products and services.
On the other hand, others question AI’s potentially adverse impacts on society, may even be in a state of denial about it, or have yet to get to grips with how it applies to their business. This may be due to a lack of understanding, a concern about the potential for job displacement, a perception that it may be risky to implement, or insufficient clarity on the benefits.
Yet there is a real opportunity to view AI as a revolutionary organisational tool, not merely as technology that can make tasks easier and processes more efficient.
“The real challenge with AI is how leaders need to rethink the organisational fabric of their business to make sure it’s applied at the right scale, beyond just solving a specific technical problem,” says David Lancefield, a partner at PwC’s Strategy&. “That’s how AI’s full benefits can be realised.”
Applied wisely, AI can increase the whole capability of an organisation, offering higher levels of precision, optimisation and understanding of the business. Business decisions right across the board can be improved, with less reliance on incomplete data and gut feel, leading to false assumptions about causality.