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McKinsey and Company, the global consulting firm with more than 30,000 employees in 67 countriesis embracing new generative AI tools in a major way: Nearly 50 percent of the company’s workforce uses ChatGPT and similar technology.
“About half of it [our employees] use these services with permission from McKinsey,” said Ben Ellencweig, senior partner and global leader of Quantum Black, the company’s artificial intelligence consulting arm, at a media event at McKinsey’s New York Experience Studio on Tuesday.
Ellencweig stressed that McKinsey had guardrails for employees using generative AI, including “guidelines and principles” about what information employees could enter into these services.
“We don’t upload confidential information,” said Ellencweig.
The speakers remained tight-lipped about exactly which AI services McKinsey employees use and for what purposes.
However, another speaker at the event, Alex Singla, also a senior partner and global leader of QuantumBlack, suggested that McKinsey was testing most of the leading generative AI services: “For all the major players, our tech people have them all in a sandbox. , [and are] playing with them every day,” he said.
Ellencweig and Singla were joined in the panel discussion on AI on Tuesday by Jacky Wright, another McKinsey senior partner and the company’s chief technology and platform officer. The discussion was moderated by Ryan Heath, Axios global tech correspondent. Other journalists present among the dozens in attendance at the event included representatives of The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and other leading media outlets.
The panelists shared anecdotes about their own experiences with generative AI tools and those of customers, including cautionary tales.
Singla described how a client, whose name was not disclosed, engaged in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Employees there used ChatGPT and asked, “How would you feel if company X bought company Y?”
“You don’t want to do that with a publicly accessible model,” Singla said, though he didn’t elaborate on why not.
The Four Cs: How McKinsey Clients Use Gene AI
Ellencweig gave examples of how McKinsey clients and the companies it studies are currently leveraging generative AI, which he dubbed “The Four Cs.” These include:
- Coding: Ellencweig said some McKinsey client software developers had seen productivity gains of 35-55% by using ChatGPT and similar tools.
- Customer engagement: Some companies are using generative AI to offer more personalized customer interactions.
- Creative content generation: Marketing companies are already using generative AI to streamline their content generation processes and refine their audience segments, taking a “segment of one” approach—that is, marketing personalized to each individual.
- Content synthesis: Companies use generative AI to combine different data points and services in new ways.
McKinsey’s recommended 5-step approach to enterprise gen AI
With regard to companies where leaders are still wondering how to approach generative AI in a safe, secure and smart way, Singla suggested using a five-step framework.
- IT stack and infrastructure: “Before building the model and creating these cool insights, think about your IT stack and infrastructure” and where the AI tools and data will reside – “in the cloud or your own infrastructure ?”
- Data: do you use structured or unstructured data? Will you be using your own data, proprietary data, third-party data, or a combination thereof? How will you organize this data? What protections do they all need?
- Choosing the right AI model: Which LLMs or generative AI tools will your company deploy and why? This decision “is absolutely required, but not sufficient in itself,” said Singla.
- UI and UX: Singla cited ChatGPT’s simple interface as key to its adoption. “Anyone can use it, whether you’re eight or eighty.”
- Change management: How can the organization ensure that AI users are supported, their questions answered and their work tasks changed by AI?
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