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Artificial Intelligence

Is generative AI creating shareholder value in publicly listed companies?


Bain & Company’s clients want to know how they can use generative AI (GenAI) to add value to their businesses. In order to make recommendations, Bain & Company Partner Jennifer Smith, MBA ’11, and Senior Manager Enrico Innocenti, MBA ’18, needed more information. They enlisted a team of six Proseminar in Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, and Private Equity students to help.

“We wanted to determine if there was a financial return for using GenAI,” Innocenti says. “Since we’re early on in the adoption curve of this technology, there isn’t much data. That’s where the students came in.”

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Uncovering the many applications of AI

The MIT Sloan team researched how various companies across industries are using GenAI, including how businesses use GenAI powered chatbots to engage customers during instant message conversations, how engineers are deploying it to increase efficiency and reduce costs in industrial processes, and how healthcare companies are using it to expedite the drug development phase, bringing new products to market faster.

“It was exciting to see a broad range of use cases across multiple verticals, some seemingly simple and functional, and others completely revolutionary and disruptive,” says MIT Sloan Fellows MBA (SFMBA) Nasiru Braimah.

“Through rigorous analysis and in-depth research, we uncovered the potential of GenAI-driven initiatives to significantly enhance operational efficiencies, foster innovation, and ultimately drive shareholder value,” says SFMBA Phoon Hee Yau. “This understanding underscores the importance for companies to embrace emerging technologies strategically, if they want to remain competitive in today's dynamic landscape.”

Mutual benefits for Bain & Company and students

The information and data the students gleaned confirmed what Smith and Innocenti suspected, but now they had evidence to back it up, and something that could be further developed to ultimately present insights to their clients.

“We engaged the students as sounding boards for what we’re thinking,” says Innocenti. “Their research provided us proof points that validated our hypotheses. And their varied opinions and insights helped us further refine our perspectives.”

“In fact,” adds Smith, “in the GenAI part of the healthcare private equity report that we issued to all our clients in January, we included some of the nuances that the students found in their research.”

Not only did the students provide valuable, actionable information for Bain & Company, but they also gained important takeaways they plan to apply to their own careers.

Lilian Alves | SFMBA '24
By focusing on sectors such as consumer product goods, healthcare, and financial services, I gained insights into operational efficiency and new product development. This knowledge is something I look forward to leveraging in my future career.

Another significant lesson for Alves was the importance of presenting real value to shareholders beyond buzzwords. “It's crucial to demonstrate how GenAI can concretely benefit the company’s core product or serve to outline a clear strategy for its application in improving the business,” she says.

Phoon Hee Yau | SFMBA '24
This experience has equipped me with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to tackle complex business problems and make meaningful contributions in my future endeavors. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity and look forward to applying the lessons learned to drive positive change in the world of business and beyond.

SFMBA student Joy Wang appreciated the opportunity to apply her MIT Sloan education to Bain & Company’s business challenge.

“I got the chance to leverage the data analytics techniques learnt from a course called Analytics Edge, which covers a series of machine learning models for data analytics and decision making,” says Wang.

Action Learning at MIT Sloan and beyond

Smith and Innocenti are longtime supporters of MIT Sloan Action Learning; Bain & Company has hosted student teams for the past five years in a row and is looking forward to continuing the relationship.

“We love it,” says Smith. “I’m a huge fan.” As a student, Smith took every Action Learning course she could, including G-Lab, India Lab, Marketing Lab, and E-Lab. 

Jennifer Smith | MBA '11 and partner at Bain & Company
Some of my best experiences at MIT were Action Learning experiences. They’re one of the reasons I wanted to go into consulting—and what I do now at Bain.

As alumni, both Smith and Innocenti also enjoy connecting with students and serving as mentors. “I tell them it’s an opportunity for them to be bold,” Innocenti says. “If they have ideas, this is their chance to present them, to push their thinking and be creative, to shine in front of their hosts.”

“We really love brainstorming with students and reading everything they produce,” Smith adds. “We take them very seriously because, in the end, we get actionable insights that bring us fresh perspectives.”