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Zero One: Will AI Boost Profits?

An Accenture study suggests AI will improve balance sheets across industries but also create workforce angst.

Line-of-business executives across industries need to make smarter, faster decisions. Not bold business decisions, rather lots of tiny ones through artificial intelligence. That is, they need to bring AI into their operations. Why? Because AI can boost rates of profitability, an Accenture study found.

It’s good news coming off of declining corporate profits. Growth of profits has dropped from 25 percent in 2010 to -3 percent in 2015. Accenture and Frontier Economics modeled the potential economic impact of AI for 16 industries and found that AI can be a much-needed shot in the arm.

Related: Zero One: Are You Ready for AI?

Specifically, if you’re an LOB or channel partner in information and communication, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, financial services or healthcare, you better get on board with AI now. Accenture says AI will bring the highest growth in gross value added, or GVA (a close approximation to gross domestic product), to these industries.

Here’s a list of the industries and the additional GVA that AI can drive by 2035, along with interesting use cases, according to Accenture:

  1. Information and communication: $4.7 trillion additional GVA. AI finds new ways to protect customers from cyber-attacks.
  2. Manufacturing: $3.8 trillion additional GVA. AI and machine learning ride the Internet of Things wave, advancing automation and decision-making at the edge. (According to IDC, every IoT initiative will be supported by AI capabilities by 2019.)
  3. Financial services: $1.2 trillion additional GVA. AI frees up employees by taking on mind-numbing tasks, such as mortgage reviews and customer queries.
  4. Wholesale and retail: $2 trillion additional GVA. AI unearths pockets of demand.
  5. Healthcare: $461 billion additional GVA. AI analyzes massive amounts of data and comes up with predictive diagnosis.

Related: The Doyle Report: Can Your Career Withstand the Coming Onslaught of Robots?

To fully grasp what AI has to offer, LOBs and channel partners in every industry should view AI through a common lens. Chief among them, AI brings disruption and chaos to the existing order – so be prepared for it. You’ll need buy-in from the highest ranks and a clear roadmap to minimize the disruption.

Much of the disruption will occur in the workforce. After all, AI replaces at least a part of an employee’s duties, which, naturally, threatens their job. Human resources will play a big role in communicating with employees and perhaps managing the AI workforce.

However, there is an upside to AI for employees. They’ll be able to move up the value chain and actually learn from machines about ways to do their jobs better. MasterCard, for example, hopes AI can make its employees better sellers.

“There will be a need for new skills in the workforce that leapfrog technical expertise, with a new emphasis on human abilities – judgment, communication, creative thinking – that complement technologies,” Accenture says.

Accenture even suggests positioning AI as an ally to the human worker. For instance, AI can be used to “detect emotional stress and worker burnout through natural language processing, helping managers to shape and improve workplace culture and satisfaction,” Accenture says.

Based in Silicon Valley, Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is eager to hear how AI is impacting your business. You can reach him at [email protected] 

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