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  • Writer's pictureJakob Nielsen

Using AI Makes Businesspeople Optimistic About AI

Summary: Hands-on experience with AI tools makes business professionals more likely to be optimistic about the future prospects of AI in business, according to new research.

62% of business professionals with experience using generative AI are optimistic about its future, a stark contrast to the mere 36% of respondents devoid of AI experience who share this optimism. Conversely, 42% of nonusers express concern about AI, whereas a negligible 22% of regular AI users echo these concerns.

These stats from a new survey of 13,000 business professionals across 18 countries by the respected Boston Consulting Group (BCG) unveil a stark chasm severing the visionaries from the skeptics regarding AI's impending role in commerce. Unsurprisingly, forward-thinking executives (62% optimistic) and workaday employees (42%) see through dissimilar lenses. Middle managers, suitably, take an intermediate stance with 54% being optimistic:

My explanation: AI is poised to transfigure business, spawning staggering gains in productivity and quality, as corroborated by recent research.

Those with firsthand experience leveraging AI have reaped these benefits themselves, so their optimism carries more weight than the misguided apprehensions of those swayed by the often gloomy media portrayal without personal hands-on experience. Moreover, senior executives possess a panoramic view of their companies' future compared to lower-ranking staff, making their projections of AI's benefits more credible. In any event, the executives' views are in harmony with the research I just cited.

(I wish the study had separated the viewpoints of company founders from those of hired executives as founders frequently possess a more visionary appreciation for steering their businesses.)

How to redress the pessimism of some subordinates? Immerse them in firsthand AI experience! Every organization should spring for the laughably cheap $20 subscriptions to ChatGPT 4 and distribute them pronto to all knowledge workers. Once people witness the transformative power of AI firsthand, they’ll become fast converts to the cause. Unleashing frontline staff’s creativity will be a fount of innovation, with ideas for leveraging AI in the company repaying that $20 many thousandfold.

A good example is Mizuho Financial Group in Japan which has bought access to a generative AI service for 45,000 bank staff. According to Bloomberg, “Already, managers and rank-and-file employees are submitting dozens of pitches for ways to harness the technology.”

My first Midjourney illustration for this post was a pedestrian “optimistic business founder trying to inspire hesitant employees,” but I then thought to spice things up with a prompt for “business meeting on the Planet of the Apes, the boss tries to inspire the employees.”

Which rendition do you prefer? Humans or Apes? I asked this on my LinkedIn posting, and the Apes have it, according to the vast majority of my readers.

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