Artificial Intelligence

Six charts that show how to get the most out of digital investment

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau high fives a robotic arm as he takes part in a robotics demonstration at Kinova Robotics in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada March 24, 2017.  REUTERS/Christinne Muschi     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC18BB86E610

A helping hand: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau high fives a robotic arm Image: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Mark Jones
Head of Digital Content, The World Economic Forum
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Artificial Intelligence?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Artificial Intelligence is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Artificial Intelligence

Huge investment is going into digital technology. Some fear this won't boost productivity as much as the steam engine, the assembly line, or the computer did in previous waves of technical change. Others are more optimistic. New research from the World Economic Forum and Accenture suggests there’s room for hope.

Based on data from 16,000 companies using four technologies -- Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, the Internet of Things, Robotics, and mobile/social media -- the following trends emerged.

1. The Internet of Things will lead the surge in digital investment

Total technology investment is set to reach $2.4 trillion by 2020. By then, investment in the Internet of Things -- which brings everything from coffee makers to oil rig drills online -- will become the most favoured investment by far. The IoT is considered the glue that will bind the next phase of digital together, allowing billions of devices to send and receive data.

2. Technology Investment works better for some industries than others

Asset-heavy industries like chemicals and mining do better from investment in hardware, with robotics more productive than the Internet of Things. Meanwhile, asset-light industries like professional and financial services do much better with investment in software -- cognitive technologies and social/mobile media.

3. The top 20% of companies get more than double the returns of the rest

Leaders, those companies that are in the top 20% of their sector by productivity, are particularly good at harvesting gains from robotics and mobile/social media. The bottom 80% do better on the Internet of Things and Cognitive Technologies.

4. Productivity gains are three times higher when technologies are deployed together

Predictably, Robotics does best in boosting labour productivity. Mobile and Cognitive Technologies are best for revenue. But best of all is a combination.

5. Investing in all four technologies together makes sense whether you’re in heavy industry or the service sector

Heavy industry gets more value from robotics; services industries get more from mobile and social media. But when an holistic approach to using all four technologies then the returns are broadly the same.

Not forgetting the human factor

Discussions with industry groups suggest that getting big returns from the less mature Cognitive Technology and IOT will require the right kind of company culture. In particular, an agile and digital-savvy leadership, a digital mindset in the workforce, collaboration with suppliers, distributors, customers and other groups outside the organisation.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Artificial IntelligenceFourth Industrial Revolution
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

With Generative AI we can reimagine education — and the sky is the limit

Oguz A. Acar

February 19, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum