Over the past few years, rapid technological advances in digitization and data and analytics have been
- reshaping the business landscape,
- supercharging performance
- and enabling the emergence of new business innovations
- and new forms of competition
- and business disruption.
Yet progress has been uneven. While many companies struggle to harness the power of these technologies, companies that are fully leveraging the capabilities are capturing disproportionate benefits, transforming their businesses and outpacing—and occasionally disrupting—the rest.
At the same time the technology itself continues to evolve rapidly, bringing new waves of advances in
- and artificial intelligence (AI),
- and especially machine learning.
Together they amount to a step change in technical capabilities that could have profound implications for business, for the economy, and more broadly for society as a whole. Machines today increasingly match or outperform human performance in a range of work activities, including ones that require cognitive capabilities, learning, making tacit judgments, sensing emotion, and even driving—activities that used to be considered safe from automation. Adoption of these technologies could bring significant new performance and transformational benefits to companies that go beyond simply substituting labor and lead to previously unimagined breakthrough performance and outcomes. Moreover, they have the potential to boost the productivity of the global economy at a time when it is sorely needed for growth and the share of the working-age population is declining.
Yet their advent raises difficult questions about how companies can best prepare for and harness these technologies, the skills and organizational reinvention that will be required to make the most of them, and how the leaders in the private and public sector as well as workers will adapt to the impact on jobs, capability-building and the nature of work itself.