In this independent discussion paper, we examine investment in artificial intelligence (AI), describe how it is being deployed by companies that have started to use these technologies across sectors, and aim to explore its potential to become a major business disrupter. To do this, we looked at AI through several lenses. We analyzed the total investment landscape bringing together both investment of large corporations and funding from venture capital and private equity funds. We also reviewed the portfolio plays of major internet companies, the dynamics in AI ecosystems from Shenzhen to New York, and a wide range of case studies. As part of our primary research, we surveyed more than 3,000 senior executives on the use of AI technologies, their companies’ prospects for further deployment, and AI’s impact on markets, governments, and individuals. This report also leverages the resources of McKinsey Analytics, a global practice that helps clients achieve better performance through data. The research was conducted jointly with Digital McKinsey, a global practice that designs and implements digital transformations.
In addition to identifying a gap between AI investment and commercial application, which is typical of early technology development curves, we found that the new generation of AI applications is based on the foundation of digitization. Leading sectors in digital tend to be leading sectors in AI, and these are predicted to drive growth. We also found that AI has the potential to accelerate shifts in market share, revenue, and profit pools—all hallmarks of digitally disrupted sectors. This report leverages two MGI analyses of digitization, Digital America: A tale of the haves and have-mores , published in December 2015, and Digital Europe: Pushing the frontier, capturing the benefits, published in June 2016. These reports introduced the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Industry Digitization Index, which combines dozens of indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of where and how companies are building digital assets, expanding digital usage, and creating a more digital workforce. This report also builds on MGI’s work on advanced analytics, The age of analytics: Competing in a data-driven world , published in December 2016, and on automation, A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity , published in January 2017, as well as Artificial intelligence: Implications for China, published in April 2017; and an April 2017 Digital McKinsey report, Smartening up with artificial intelligence (AI): What’s in it for Germany and its industrial sector.