Generative AI is Revolutionizing Global Business at Unprecedented Speed, Survey Reveals

Is generative AI taking over the world? Bain & Company's latest research shows that this technology is becoming nearly ubiquitous in global businesses. In fact, generative AI deployments are spreading at an unprecedented pace, with 87% of companies either already implementing or currently piloting the technology—up from 83% last October.

The survey reveals that businesses are rapidly ramping up their spending and commitments to generative AI. Over 60% of surveyed companies have made it one of their top three priorities for this year and next, and 87% place it among their top five priorities for the next three to four years. On average, companies are budgeting around $5 million annually for generative AI activities, with the largest 20% of companies allocating up to $50 million per year, highlighting the massive scale of their investment.

"The scale and pace of generative AI adoption across the business landscape is remarkable. It speaks to this technology having a truly far-reaching and transformative impact for companies across sectors as it continues to develop – and as deployments continue to accelerate. It's equally impressive that, with most major business already putting money and muscle behind generative AI implementations, the majority are seeing a path towards realizing real business value. But what is also clear is that CEOs and executive committees need to take clear ownership of activating AI in their organizations and ensuring a clear, well-defined vision for its use," said Gene Rapoport, Bain & Company partner and leader of AI initiatives for Bain's Private Equity practice.

In another one of its surveys, Bain & Company highlighted the power of generative AI in other sectors, mainly focusing on its influence in the retail sector.

Generative AI teams are becoming bigger 

The survey shows a significant increase in the size of teams working on AI projects. Companies typically have around 100 employees engaging with AI technology, and larger companies have as many as 240 team members involved. The primary business goals for these AI capabilities are boosting revenues and enhancing efficiency and productivity, with 68% of companies citing these among their top three objectives.

Despite the enthusiasm, there is a need for stronger strategic direction. Only 36% of executives report having a well-defined vision for AI deployments, complete with a sequenced roadmap and clear value expectations. Moreover, 21% have ideas for AI use but have not yet coordinated their efforts.

Gen AI is exceeding expectations  

In addition, the survey shows that generative AI meets or exceeds expectations in 75% of cases. About 80% of respondents noted that generative AI prototyping is faster than earlier AI technologies and machine learning. When AI deployments fall short, common issues include poor output quality and unmet performance needs.

However, performance for use cases in sales, marketing, customer service, and customer onboarding is improving, and concerns over risk, data security, and privacy have decreased. Still, companies recognize the need to improve data readiness, data security, and talent to maximize generative AI's potential.

How are companies approaching generative AI? 

Discussions around generative AI are shifting from hype to realistic assessments, focusing on value delivery and practical applications. Success is seen in sales, software development, marketing, knowledge worker assistants, and customer service.

Tech companies are leading in data and security readiness for generative AI, while non-tech industries lag behind. Additionally, companies are experimenting with buying third-party solutions and building tailored applications to meet their specific needs.

Elsewhere, Qualtrics and Bain & Company have unveiled plans to broaden their strategic alliance and integrate Bain's customer experience strategies with Qualtrics' advanced artificial intelligence capabilities.