2021 AI Predictions: Your strategic ally

The fastest way to get return on investment (ROI) is to use its advanced automation capabilities to improve efficiency and productivity. Understandably enough—who doesn’t like fast ROI?—that’s the top goal for AI strategies.

But increased innovation and revenue growth are also rising in importance, and that requires making AI an ally in strategic decisions. Fifty-eight percent of our survey respondents have increased investments in AI for workforce planning. Forty-eight percent are ramping up investments in AI for simulation modeling and supply chain resilience. Forty-three percent are upping investments in AI for scenario planning, 42% for demand projection.

Together, these investments can make AI a strategic ally, closing the gap between idea and execution to drive faster and better decisions. COVID-19 has accelerated this more advanced use of AI, and it has provided a major payoff during the pandemic—a payoff that should continue long into the future. With the right data and models, AI can sense coming changes in your markets and risks to your supply chain. It can think through options for your investments, workforce and go-to-market strategies. It can help you decide and act, while continually monitoring and improving its own performance. This dynamic sense, think, act approach to strategy, which AI makes possible, is within reach today.


AI’s investment and payoff during the COVID-19 pandemic


Have made significant investments
Investment provided positive impact

Workforce planning
%
%
Simulation modeling
%
%
Supply chain resilience
%
%
Scenario planning
%
%
Demand projection
%
%
Contact tracing
%
%

Source: PwC 2021 AI Predictions
Base: 1,032
Q5. In which, if any, of the following AI areas has your company made significant investments? Q6. What has been the impact of those investments during the COVID-19 pandemic to date?

How to make AI your strategic ally in 2021

  • Make strategy a game.
    AI can game out different scenarios for your company, modeling future conditions and their likely impact. It can also assess different responses (whether in workforce, supply chains or go-to-market) that are likely to work. The results will be data-driven strategic decisions, even in highly uncertain situations.

  • Strategize nonstop.
    With AI constantly ingesting data and delivering strategic forecasts and models, you need to be a strategic executor. Rethink and fine-tune your strategy continuously—not just once a year.

  • Bulletproof your operations.
    Consider AI’s potential to boost resilience. By continuously sensing new threats and opportunities, rapidly thinking out their impact and acting quickly, AI can help you mitigate disruptions—and seize new opportunities.

Learn about the five predictions and what your company can do to make the most of AI

1. No uncertainty here: AI investments will increase

1. No uncertainty here

AI investments will increase

Learn more

2. Your strategic ally: Faster and better decisions, thanks to AI

2. Your strategic ally

Faster and better decisions, thanks to AI
3. From risk awareness to risk action: Responsible AI’s time is now

3. From risk awareness to risk action

Responsible AI’s time is now

Learn more

4. Beyond upskilling: new talent strategies will emerge

4. Beyond upskilling

New talent strategies will emerge

Learn more

5. The model is never done: The AI reorganization accelerates

5. The model is never done

The AI reorganization accelerates

Learn more

About the survey

PwC’s annual AI Predictions survey, now in its fourth edition, explores the activities and attitudes of US business and technology executives who are involved in their organization’s AI strategies. Among this year’s 1,032 survey respondents, 71% hold C-suite titles and 25% were from companies with revenues of $5 billion and up. They are from the following industries: industrial products (20%), consumer markets (20%), financial services (18%), tech, media and telecommunications (17%), health industries (17%), and energy, utilities and mining (8%). The survey was conducted by PwC Research, PwC’s global Center of Excellence for market research and insight, in October 2020.

 

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Scott Likens

Scott Likens

PwC Emerging Technology Leader, ­US, China, and Japan, PwC US

Anand Rao

Anand Rao

Global & US Artificial Intelligence and US Data & Analytics Leader, PwC US

Michael Shehab

Michael Shehab

PwC Labs & Tax Technology Leader, PwC US

Jennifer Lendler

Jennifer Lendler

Managing Director, Assurance, PwC US

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