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How generative AI will unlock big value in the Big Apple

10-minute read

April 30, 2024

In brief

  • AI is set to transform everything we do. The challenge – and top question leaders must ask – is how it can provide real value to New York City.
  • Accenture & Tech:NYC research found that a “people-centric” AI strategy could generate $320 billion additional NY State economic value by 2038.
  • We’ve identified six actions to inform leaders, policy makers and stakeholders on key elements to enhance NYC’s success as a global AI destination.

New York City’s AI opportunity

New York City is a leading global destination for industries and skilled labor, rich with opportunities as vibrant and diverse as the industries and people that call it home. AI, especially with the explosion of innovation in generative AI technology, is set to fundamentally transform everything we do.

The challenge—and the top question leaders must ask—is how these technologies can provide real value to businesses, public institutions & people in New York City.

Accenture collaborated with Tech:NYC to examine AI’s potential across the major stakeholders that serve New York City. The research found that the economic benefit of generative AI adoption involves harnessing opportunities across three areas:

  1. Accelerating economic value & productivity
  2. Attracting AI talent
  3. Scaling AI responsibly in New York City

Accelerating economic growth & productivity

Accenture’s modeling revealed three growth scenarios based on likely labor transitions, adoption and innovation pace: aggressive, cautious & people-centric. Notably, "people-centric" adoption approaches could generate an additional $320 billion in economic value in New York State by 2038. We found more aggressive approaches show a greater short-term productivity boost at the cost of lower long-term benefits.

97% of NYC executives surveyed firmly believe that AI will yield a net positive impact on society, underscoring the collective confidence in the transformative potential of these new technologies. Nearly all executives (99%) are already planning to augment their investments in AI. This commitment demonstrates New York’s business leaders are taking a proactive stance toward these technologies.

An additional $320 billion in economic value in NY State can be unlocked by adopting people-centric approaches to Generative AI
An additional $320 billion in economic value in NY State can be unlocked by adopting people-centric approaches to Generative AI

Attracting AI talent

With such a significant potential economic impact on the horizon, executives have already begun laying out their recruitment strategies. Accenture’s survey found 92% of NYC executives are planning to recruit new AI talent in NYC in the next 3 years. The New York region has also benefited significantly from a talent migration initiated during the 2020 pandemic: NYC is growing fast and demonstrates a regional advantage in attracting talent to NYC from San Francisco. Accenture found NYC's “competitive effect” was higher than San Francisco.

Accenture’s research found that key industries, such as software development, financial services, IT services and consulting, media and higher education, are emerging as key concentrations for AI-related roles within NYC. NYC’s uniquely capable talent pool supports these industries, providing a significant boom for local executives. Accenture’s survey found that 89% of local executives were confident in their ability to secure needed AI tech skills from the city’s talent pool—and they had near-unanimous agreement that the pool will grow larger over the next few years.

Responsible New York City

AI can only be successful with government support across all levels—federal, state and local. 96% of executives surveyed agree that NYC’s government has a strong role to play in AI being used responsibly. The 2023 legislative session saw a surge in state AI laws proposed across the US, with 56 proposed bills in the nation that affect various aspects of the use and deployment of the technologies. New York State introduced 24 of them (either pending or on New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk). The city too has shown an eagerness to lead: for example, introducing bills addressing the deployment of facial recognition technology in the private sector.

By applying responsible standards in the development and scaling of AI, NYC can continue its charge to be a leading smart city in the United States. NYC should focus on a cohesive integration of AI tools across all departments, particularly targeting those with minimal current AI usage, to guarantee a uniform and optimized approach to public services and infrastructure management.

Collaboration across the ecosystem to unlock true value

In NYC, the full ecosystem across business, people & public service combine to bring potent impacts in innovation through collaboration. Collaboration between stakeholders is particularly important with nascent technologies like generative AI and the transformative shifts it brings. Early AI adopters such as General Electric and JPMorgan Chase, academic institutions like New York University and Columbia University, corporate innovation labs within Microsoft and Amazon, AI start-ups such as Ramp and Hugging Face—these are the types of stakeholders that work together to form a strong ecosystem.

These are the types of collaborations that feed the talent pipeline and inspire confidence in executives. Accenture found that NYC executives believe “fostering collaboration between leading academic institutions, companies and talent” is the single most impactful action city leaders can take to solidify NYC as a global AI leader.

Collaboration across key local institutions and industries is core to NYC’s success as a global AI leader. To sustain this leadership position, collaboration must be as easy and fruitful as possible. That means listening to the needs and goals of local executives and finding ways of connecting them to the excellent talent that city institutions are developing.

Actions to fortify NYC’s position as a global AI destination

Harnessing the power of New York City’s ecosystem across business, people & public institutions, we can unlock the value of AI.

To do so, we’ve identified six actions to inform local leaders, policy makers and stakeholders:

  1. Promote AI as a continuous reinvention cycle, not a one-off project

  2. Power NYC’s digital core to transform functions, services and resident life

  3. Propel New York’s AI infrastructure and reputation forward via Empire AI

  4. Prepare local talent to secure current and / or new roles

  5. Provide businesses and residents with safe and responsible AI (RAI)

  6. Position leaders of all types as the catalyst for AI and generative AI enablement

If these six key actions are followed and implemented responsibly, New York City will become the next global AI destination.


John Ratzan

Data & AI Lead – Northeast & Financial Services Managing Director

Laura Peterson

Communications, Media & Technology Client Group Lead – Northeast & Office Managing Director – New York Metro

Deborah Snyder

H&PS Client Group Lead – Northeast

Francis Hintermann

Global Lead – Accenture Research