July 15, 2024

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Bain global managing partner predicts AI tipping point

4 min read

Good morning from Geneva.

Deglobalization, decarbonization, and managing the higher costs of capital. These are three of the major trends global business must grapple with, Bain’s new global managing partner Christophe De Vusser told me a few days ago. But another trumps them all, he said: generative AI.  

Generative AI is, of course, the buzziest term in business these days. But a few things still stood out to me as De Vusser, the first European to lead Bain (and a former colleague of mine in the Brussels office), discussed how artificial intelligence is changing Bain’s operations and its relationships with clients.  

“Generative AI has not yet reached its tipping point. It’s not at full deployment where it impacts everything we do, and how workflows will be organized,” he said. 

But the revolution is on the horizon. In Bain’s internal operations, AI has already altered between 20% and 25% of Bain’s work, and that will soon be up to 50%, De Vusser predicted. Gone are the days where junior consultants manually make charts. Bain now hires data scientists and engineers and has automated much of that grunt work. 

De Vusser said the real impact will come when AI alters how the company works across all divisions and roles, the market in which it plays, and the profits it makes. That will all occur when gen AI becomes “multimodal,” includes video and audio alongside language, and can change entire work processes, or even replace humans with robots. (He didn’t indicate a timeline.)    

Consultants like Bain don’t make money by merely looking in their crystal ball; they work hand in glove with companies to make their prophecies become self-fulfilling. 

Bain was one of the first consulting firms to strike a partnership with OpenAI, when it announced a “services alliance” with the ChatGPT developer in February of last year. Only a few months later, the giant French retailer Carrefour announced its own OpenAI deployment, calling it the result of a “collaboration with Bain & Company and Microsoft, partners of OpenAI.” 

Since then, several more of Bain’s clients, including American Express, State Farm, Coca-Cola, Ahold Delhaize, CVC, and Citizens also displayed a “huge demand for gen AI innovation and future proofing,” the company said. “30% of our business is driven by advising people on AI and the supporting technologies,” De Vusser said. Thirty percent? That sounds like a tipping point to me. 

On an entirely unrelated note, CEO Daily is off tomorrow for the 4th of July. We’ll be back on Friday. 

More news below.

Peter Vanham
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