BCG Henderson Institute

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At Novartis, artificial intelligence benefits both the company and its peopleThe Swiss-American corporation is using A.I. to study all the data from the many thousands of experiments that it has conducted over the years. Based on those insights, its algorithms are identifying molecules that could be combined to create new drugs. The organization doesn’t have to go through the tedious process of experimenting with every molecule, and with every combination, but tests only the most promising leads that the A.I. recommends. It’s shrinking the time Novartis takes to launch new drugs and reducing its R&D costs.

The benefits of using A.I. haven’t come at the expense of Novartis’s people; its scientists haven’t become subservient to the technology. Au contraire, thanks to the technology, the scientists no longer have to comb through myriad documents to find data, and can focus on more value-adding tasks. Moreover, building on the A.I.’s data-based recommendations, the scientists are deepening their understanding of molecular properties and stimulating their creativity, which is enabling them to develop novel molecular combinations faster.

The technology may well be called augmenting, rather than artificial, intelligence. A popular perception is that businesses generate value with A.I. at the expense of employees, but that’s mostly a myth. Our studies show that the technology benefits both companies and employees. Only 7% of employees believe that they get little or no value from using A.I. but that their companies achieve value from it, according to the recently-unveiled 2022 BCG – MIT SMR A.I. Report. In fact, as many as 64% of employees admit that they personally benefit from using A.I. in their jobs. And despite the widely held suspicion that A.I. makes employees feel inferior, a mere 8% complained that job satisfaction had fallen after using the technology.

Importantly, organizations are more likely to generate value from A.I. when they focus on how their employees too can gain value from A.I. Companies whose employees gain value by using A.I. are almost six times as likely to generate significant financial returns from the technology than organizations that don’t. That begs two questions: How exactly do employees derive value from A.I.? And how can organizations ensure that it happens systematically?

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