The ROI on AI Projects is Still Negative

Unless you are Microsoft, your IT solutions are expected to provide a positive return on the investment. You might have heard that Microsoft loses $20 a month for every GitHub Copilot customer. That’s after the customer pays $10 for the product. If you are a heavy user of Copilot, you might be causing Microsoft a loss of up to $80 every month.

Some organizations are rich enough to be able to afford unprofitable products like this. They typically have to spend their own money. VCs seem to have soured on the idea that “we lose money on every customer, but we make up for it in volume.”

If you are running an AI project right now, you should be clear that it will not pay for itself. Outside a very narrow range of applications, typically image recognition, AI is still experimental. If you have approved an AI project based on a business case showing a positive ROI, question the assumptions behind it. The AI failures are piling up, and even the largest, best-run, and most experienced organizations in the world cannot make money implementing AI yet. You probably can’t, either. Unless you have money to burn, let someone else figure out how to get AI to pay for itself.

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