What CEOs need to understand to accelerate value from AI

19 April 2024 • 3 min read

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Business leaders - and CEOs in particular - are under immense pressure to deliver value to the top line, the bottom line, or both. New technologies have a critical role to play in this, and the challenges they face are complicated by the rise of AI. 

To learn how leaders are navigating, rolling out and in many cases limiting AI in their businesses, we surveyed 600 CEOs across the UK, US and Netherlands. Discover what’s keeping peers awake at night and see how your approach stacks up in comparison. Download The CEO Digital Divide report


CEOs are divided on the risks and rewards of AI


The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) presents a paradox in the way that CEOs are using the technology. According to our latest research, one-third of CEOs (34%) have prohibited AI tools like ChatGPT within their companies, while nearly half (45%) admit to covertly using these technologies to perform their duties, later presenting the outputs as their own work. The dilemma is clear: while many CEOs acknowledge the benefits AI can offer, there is marked division on strategies for adoption, experimentation, and establishing effective use cases - this is further complicated by ethical concerns and data security.



AI’s potential to disrupt is causing unease for CEOs


The potential of AI to disrupt traditional roles is significant; a startling 43% of business leaders fear AI could one day replace the role of the CEO, exposing the apprehensive view that technology could render established job positions obsolete. This unease is mirrored by the revelation that 44% of executives feel their management teams are ill-prepared to integrate AI into their organisations.


Most CEOs are poised to invest in AI upskilling


The necessity for upskilling is evident, with a substantial 76% of those surveyed actively pursuing training to ensure their people are skilled and comfortable with the use cases for AI tools - highlighting a proactive stance toward embracing inevitable change. However - as previously mentioned - one-third of CEOs have chosen to ban AI tools altogether, reflecting the ongoing struggle to balance innovation with risk and ethical governance, a sentiment echoed by the 68% who rank ethical considerations in AI adoption as a paramount concern. Clearly there’s a lack of consensus between those that understand the imperative for ethical AI deployment and those racing to harness AI’s potential at all costs.


Moving swiftly and safely into the AI space


It’s entirely possible to deploy AI swiftly and efficiently without compromising ethics or governance. Establish your core AI team early, equipped with the expertise and strategic thinking to safely lead your business towards its goals. A well-thought-out enablement framework will be key to the wider roll-out of the strategy - equipping individuals with clear guidelines and methods to assess AI as a potential solution to corporate challenges. 

By establishing your first use case early, you’ll be able to showcase the art of the possible and build business-wide momentum; then expand when the time (and the solutions) are right. 

It’s worth noting that a more open and honest dialogue around AI's current and potential use within individual businesses will make it easier for leaders to understand how to meaningfully accelerate value within their own organisations.



Speed and acceleration are all relative, compared to what’s happening across the wider market. Gauge where your business falls in comparison to peers, and learn what actions are boosting and limiting CEO progress in the AI space. Download The CEO Digital Divide, for insights from 600 leaders. 


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