Following our first AI study in 2019, this brand-new study among 162 tech-savvy managers explores the current “state of AI” in innovation management throughout a broad spectrum of companies. We find that more and more companies use AI in innovation management in one way or another and expect great benefits. For instance, managers expect AI to improve the speed of the development cycle by 57% and the decision-making process by 55%.

While the momentum of AI is still high, we see that companies follow distinct implementation approaches that differ regarding strategy, investments, organizational set-up, capability building and systematization which result in three major clusters:

  • AI Leaders, the most progressive group when it comes to utilizing and systematizing the technology for AI-driven innovation management
  • AI Pragmatists, the cluster of companies that have accomplished solid levels of AI usage in most dimensions with limited resources and a rather “hands-on” approach
  • AI Aspirants, companies that have invested few resources so far and show sporadic and rather unsystematic AI efforts only
Clipart picture of different types of AI adopters

Google can do it – so can you, but differently. While we have learned a lot from best practices of “AI-first” companies such as Google, Alibaba or Microsoft with purely digital business and operating models, we take a look at more traditional, originally non-digital companies that have recently undergone a digital transformation. How do they capitalize on the new opportunities and how do their implementation approaches and measures look like?

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Rather, it is up to every single company to utilize AI in its own individual way that it makes the most out of this groundbreaking technology while considering the company’s baseline and ambition.

We asked Harvard Business School professor and co-author of “Competing in the Age of AI”, Karim Lakhani, to break down his insights from the AI elites to any company aspiring to use AI for innovation. His recommendations are tailored to each company type we have identified and provide a starting point and direction for any company – no matter whether they are AI Aspirants, AI Pragmatists or AI Leaders.