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A CEO on Generative AI

As generative AI grows at a high speed CEOs must decide how to move forward in this new era. Generative AI has the capacity to change the way businesses operate, which can put everything into question. To keep up with this change in the market and remain competitive CEOs must prepare for an uncertain future. Therefore, there are “six hard truths” CEOs must face in order to achieve this. 


Firstly, generative AI can transform the way a company works, resulting in new levels of production and room for expansion. 72% of the highest-performing CEOs say competitive advantage depends on who has the most advanced generative AI*. However, AI can also destroy everything a CEO has worked for. Even aware of the potential harm 67% of CEOs stated that the productivity gains from automation are far too great compared to the risks*. To benefit from generative AI CEOs must find the correct balance between caution and courage. Simultaneously, they must be open to questioning old assumptions, exploring new business models, and welcoming new partners while saying goodbye to old ones. In addition, every CEO needs to be aware that the back office will soon be a generative AI hub, that generative AI converts technology into teammates and upskills and outsources to move forward faster.


Secondly, by embracing the unknown, CEOs have the opportunity to gain an edge with generative AI. However, that does not imply making a blind move. CEOs need to be aware of the underlying assumption in every risk calculation and be prepared to act fast when circumstances change. In addition, CEOs who settle for productivity gains will lose out on the largest part of generative AI opportunity: top-line growth. To prepare for the uncertainty of the future, there are critical capabilities that will allow CEOs to act with more confidence. These are effective strategy development, expertise-led differentiation, robust technology foundation, outcomes-focused investment, active ecosystem engagement, and actionable enterprise metrics. In addition, to deliver sustained AI ROI many organisations have chosen to adopt two approaches: experimentation by finding efficiencies in low-risk, non-core functions and focus by increasing crucial business functions to create wider transformation.


Lastly, to outcompete in the age of generative AI, there are six realities a CEO must face:

  1. “Your team isn’t as strong as you think.” Meaning that no matter how talented a team is at the moment, it is not prepared to face tomorrow. As a consequence, CEOs state that 35% of their workforce will need retraining*.

  2. “The customer isn’t always right.” Customers don’t know what they will want tomorrow, as tomorrow is unknown. Therefore, product and service innovation should be the top priority for a CEO.

  3. “Sentimentality is a weakness when expertise is in short supply.” Meaning a company should know which partners to prioritise and trust. Nowadays, most organisation strategies focus on fewer high-quality partners.

  4. “Sparring partners make the best leaders.” In other words, the C-suit shouldn’t always agree, and each officer should bring their ideas to the table.

  5. “People hate progress.” Therefore, many workers view generative AI as something that will jeopardise them instead of a tool that will help them, and this mindset needs to change.

  6. “Tech short-cuts are a dead end.” As a result, CEOs must decide where their tech is effective and where it needs to be rebuilt.  


In conclusion, generative AI is a boost for business transformation. CEOs need to be open to change and accept these new realities if they want to stay in the market and grow. However, rather than using generative AI to solve every issue, CEOs should comprehend how the various tools interact with one another to change employee’s daily workflow.



IBM Institute for Business Value -- research, reports, and insights (2024) IBM. Available at:


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