Management consultancy firm McKinsey has identified how companies can rely on artificial intelligence to help drive earnings, as the technology begins to deliver real benefits to early-adopters.
McKinsey Analytics' report details just how fast the artificial intelligence industry is growing - with giants such as Google and Baidu dominating, tech companies spent between $20-30bn on AI in 2016.
90% of that investment was spent on research and development and deployment, whilst the remaining 10% was on AI acquisitions.
In McKinsey's survey of 3,000 C-level executives, only 20% of respondents said that their company currently uses AI at scale or in a core part of their business.
Additionally, many firms say they are currently unaware and uncertain about any possible business returns, with AI being deployed commercially in just 12% of cases.
The report also finds that companies who are early adopters of AI that combine strong digital capability with proactive strategy typically "have higher profit margins."
Companies that fail to embrace the growing AI trend look set to see the gap between them and early adopters continue to grow, with the latter already gaining significant competitive advantages.
AI also brings urgent challenges to business, says the report: the workforce has to be reskilled to work alongside AI and robotics, as opposed to competing with it.
Progress will also need to be made on the ethical, legal and regulatory challenges that currently face the implementation of artificial intelligence.