McKinsey Black Heart: Smart Software Flat Lines!

December 7, 2022

The McKinsey online marketing content machine is chugging along. The service is called McKinsey Black, but I like to think of it as the McKinsey Black Heart. (There are many logo and branding opportunities with my version of the online publication’s name in my opinion.)

The Black Heart made available “The State of AI in 2022 and a Half Decade in Review.” I am not sure who the two or three sled dogs were who assembled the report. I know for sure that one or more managing partners are pulling their their harnesses like the horses bedecking the Brandenburg Gate.

I urge you to read this pontifical document yourself. I want to highlight one possibly irrelevant finding tucked into the mass of content marketing data; to wit:

While AI adoption globally is 2.5x higher today than in 2017, it has leveled off over the past few years.

Is this statement accurate? Come on now. That’s not a fair question due to the sampling methodology, the question formation, and the super analytic procedures used to generate the finding. Pretty boring like most Statistics 101 questions; for instance:

The online survey was in the field from May 3 to May 27, 2022, and from August 15 to August 17, 2022, and garnered responses from 1,492 participants representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties, and tenures. Of those respondents, 744 said their organizations had adopted AI in at least one function and were asked questions about their organizations’ AI use. To adjust for differences in response rates, the data are weighted by the contribution of each respondent’s nation to global GDP.

Ah, ha. A finger on the scale perhaps? Let’s move on and think about this.

The obvious value of the finding is that if you aren’t doing AI, you may be left behind. You will be like a small child watching the TGV disappear with your parents and nanny toward Nimes as you stand alone on the empty platform at Gare Montparnasse. Bad. How bad? Very bad which means, “Hire McKinsey.”

For me the idea that one of the most hyped, wild and crazy techno jargon crazies has gone flat line. Now that’s not just very bad; it is downright truly bad.

Why is the Black Heart report presenting a graph which does not look like a hockey stick. McKinsey wants to move people along the hockey stick handle, not report that the growth looks like the surface of the ice rink in the Patinoire de Nimes.

And what are the killer applications? How about making customer service great again? The idea is that smart software can replace expensive, litigious, unreliable, and non-McKinsey grade humans with digital magic. Think about your most recent brush with “customer service.” Those big company chatbots are wonderful, super wonderful.

The write up has one additional feature designed to cement the Black Heart content into your work life. You can sign up for “new artificial intelligence articles.” Presumably these will not be written by smart software. Real live Black Heart experts will share their insights.

Remember. AI is not doing the hockey stick thing. My view is that some fancy dancing was required to find violets and daisies sprouting in the opioid waste refinement system.

Imagine. A flat line. After all the pension fund money, all the hype, and all the excitement for workers who can be replaced. Here’s a question? Can those text generators replace a small McKinsey team?

That’s a good question.

Stephen E Arnold, December 7, 2022

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