“CEOs are feeling massive pressure from all stakeholders to increase transparency around data privacy and ESG,” said Christine Rupp, General Manager IBM DACH Consulting. “In DACH, CEOs indicate in the survey that boards of directors, regulators and investors in particular are the key stakeholder groups demanding much higher transparency and accountability in the use of corporate data for corresponding corporate ESG strategies and initiatives. The use of transparent and trustworthy AI is key to solving this challenge.”
The study*, which included a survey of 200 U.S. CEOs of multinational companies on their response to generative AI, also found that three-quarters of CEOs surveyed believe competitive advantage will depend on who has the most advanced generative AI. However, executives are also weighing potential risks or barriers to the technology, such as bias, ethics and security. More than half (57%) of CEOs surveyed are concerned about data security, and 48% worry about bias or data accuracy.
There is also a disconnect between CEOs* and their teams when it comes to AI readiness. Half (50%) of CEOs* in the US say they are already integrating generative AI into products and services, and 43% say they are using generative AI to support strategic decisions. Yet only 29% of executives believe they have the internal expertise to use generative AI; only 30% of non-CEO executives in the U.S. say their company is ready to use generative AI responsibly.
Among the study’s key findings:
CEOs cite productivity and the technology that helps achieve it as the most pressing priorities
- Worldwide, nearly half (48%) of CEOs surveyed cite productivity as the top priority for their company – up from sixth place in 2022; technology modernization follows as the second highest priority (45%); CEOs also say this is among their biggest challenges. In the DACH region, technological modernization ranks first (44%) and productivity ranks second (40%).
- For the fourth year in a row, CEOs globally indicate that technological factors will be the most important external factors affecting their business over the next three years. The results from the DACH region are consistent, with 50% of CEOs citing technological factors as the most important external factors affecting their business, closely followed by regulatory factors (48%).
CEOs increasingly see COOs and CFOs as strategic decision makers
Additional data collected during the survey shows the following:
- When asked which members of senior management will make the most important strategic decisions over the next three years, CEOs in DACH cite COOs (60%) and CFOs (52%). In comparison, globally it is COOs (62%) and CFOs (52%),
- In line with the global results, the influence of CIOs and CDOs on decision-making is growing. 38% of CEOs in the DACH region and globally say CIOs, followed by chief technology or chief digital officers (28% in the DACH region and 30% globally), make the most important decisions in their companies.
- A separate survey of 200 U.S. CEOs* leading multinational companies shows they are ready to adopt generative AI, but other executives have reservations.
- Three in four (75%) of CEOs surveyed believe the company with the most advanced generative AI will have a competitive advantage.
- Half (50%) of CEOs say they are already integrating generative AI into products and services. 43% say they are using generative AI to make strategic decisions, and 36% are using the technology to make operational decisions.
- While 69% of CEOs surveyed see the benefits of generative AI in their organizations, only 29% of their executive teams agree they have the expertise to use generative AI.
- Only 30% of non-CEO executives say their organizations are ready to use generative AI responsibly.
Generative AI is driving change in the workplace, but a broader assessment of its impact on the workforce has yet to be made
- About 43% of CEOs surveyed say they have reduced or otherwise deployed their workforce as a result of generative AI, with another 28% saying they plan to do so in the next 12 months.
- At the same time, 46% of CEOs surveyed have hired additional employees due to generative AI, with 26% indicating they plan to do so.
- Nevertheless, fewer than one in three CEOs (28%) have assessed the potential impact of generative AI on their workforce, and 36% say they plan to do so in the next 12 months.
The full study can be found at https://ibm.co/c-suite-study-ceo.
Learn more about the top trends and strategic bets business leaders are making to boost productivity at https://www.ibm.com/thought-leadership/institute-business-value/en-us/report/seven-bets.
The IBM Institute for Business Value, in partnership with Oxford Economics, surveyed 3,000 CEOs from more than 30 countries and 24 industries as part of the 28th edition of IBM’s C-Suite Study series. These conversations focused on executive and business leadership perspectives, their changing roles and responsibilities, and CEO decision-making today, including key challenges and opportunities, their use of technology, data and metrics, and their visions for the future. The IBM Institute for Business Value also conducted a survey of 200 CEOs in the U.S. on their responses regarding generative AI.
About the IBM Institute for Business Value
The IBM Institute for Business Value, IBM’s thought leadership think tank, combines global research and performance data with the expertise of industry thought leaders and leading academics to deliver insights that make business leaders smarter.
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