The explosive growth of generative AI tools in 2023

GenAI is poised to revolutionise businesses, with respondents from McKinsey’s annual global survey anticipating substantial workforce transformations

Generative AI (GenAI) is set to revolutionise a number of industries by automating repetitive tasks, enabling rapid prototyping, and advancing new product development. This will ultimately lead to increased efficiency, reduced costs, and accelerated innovation cycles for many businesses.

The tool's ability to create unique content and insights will disrupt traditional business models and open up a new market of opportunity. Organisations that embrace this technology early, will have a significant advantage over their competitors.

The latest annual McKinsey Global Survey confirms the explosive growth of GenAI tools. Less than a year after many of these tools appeared, one-third of survey respondents said their organisations are using GenAI regularly in at least one business function. This rapid adoption rate is driven by several factors, including the increasing availability of these tools, the growing demand for AI-powered automation, and the potential for GenAI to create new and innovative products and services.

Getting ahead with GenAI

Organisations that have already embraced both traditional and GenAI across a wider range of business practices are gaining substantial benefits. Respondents from McKinsey’s survey say that AI is contributing to at least 20% of their earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in 2022. These AI high performers are pioneering the use of this powerful new technology that can create entirely new products and services.

Bryce Hall, Associate Partner at McKinsey, says: “Over the past six years as we’ve conducted our annual global AI research, one consistent finding is that high performers take a broad view of what’s needed to be successful. They are particularly strong in staying focused on value, and then rewiring their organisation to capture that value. This pattern is clear when looking at how high performers are working with generative AI as well.

“As excited as we all are about the dazzling new GenAI applications, significantly more than half of the potential value for companies comes from AI applications that don’t use GenAI. They are maintaining discipline in viewing the full range of AI opportunities based on potential value.”

Hiring for AI-related talent remains a challenge

The survey findings reveal a shift in the types of positions that organisations are filling to support their AI initiatives. Over the past year, businesses have primarily recruited data engineers, machine learning engineers, and AI data scientists, however, the percentage of respondents reporting hiring AI-related software engineers, the most frequently hired position last year, has decreased significantly compared to the previous survey (from 39% to 28%). 

The findings state that although hiring for AI-related roles remains a challenge, it has become easier over the past year which could be connected to the wave of layoffs that swept through technology companies from late 2022 to the first half of 2023. Compared to the previous survey, fewer respondents report facing difficulties in hiring for roles such as AI data scientists, data engineers, and data visualisation specialists, however, hiring machine learning engineers and AI product owners remains as challenging as in the previous year.

Adoption and impact of AI remain steady

Despite the rapid adoption of GenAI tools, survey data indicates that these newer tools are not driving overall AI adoption within organisations. The percentage of enterprises that have adopted AI overall remains stable, for now, with 55% of respondents reporting AI adoption in their respective companies.

Michael Chui, Partner at McKinsey Global Institute explains: “We’ve been emphasising the importance of generative AI—and for good reason, given its revolutionising potential—but this survey is a good reminder that there’s a lot of value out there in the broader AI world. In fact, some of our other research indicates that nongenerative AI has even more value potential than generative AI. “

Looking forward, it goes without saying that GenAI holds immense potential to revolutionise industries and drive innovation. Organisations that embrace this technology effectively will gain a significant competitive advantage, however, it is crucial to consider the entire spectrum of AI opportunities and maintain discipline in pursuing those that offer the greatest potential value.

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