Amidst economic uncertainty and companies enacting belt-tightening measures, including layoffs, business leaders are doubling down on their investments in automation. According to EY’s recent Q4 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey, nearly all (99%) CEOs are investing significantly in integrating generative AI into their business plans.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Andrea Guerzoni, EY’s global vice chair of strategy and transitions, he shared the survey findings and how companies are deploying automation to better compete in the marketplace. Guerzoni advises client boards and CEOs on transformational deals from strategy to execution.
The EY quarterly survey of 1,200 global chief executives, which provides insights on AI and investment frameworks, sheds light on the challenges business leaders face regarding this fast-growing technology.
“The potential for GenAI to reinvent the way companies operate cannot be ignored, and CEOs are making bold investments in the technology to solidify their competitive advantages and future-proof their organizations,” said Guerzoni.
Disruptions And Investments
According to EY, growth will remain sluggish, and interest rates and inflation will remain stubborn for the foreseeable future. Companies must also contend with shifting consumer behaviors, balance of trade and escalating geopolitical turmoil. CEOs must consider the risks and rewards in this changing business landscape and recognize the emerging gap between organizations expecting to scale and those that risk falling behind.
Corporate leaders have a vested interest in adopting GenAI, as it can potentially disrupt their enterprise models. The Pulse Survey found that 69% of the respondents are redistributing funds from other investment projects, and 23% are raising new capital to financially back AI initiatives.
Despite the reallocation of money away from other budgets, Guerzoni emphasized, “To be clear, AI is not here to steal our jobs. There is still an important human element that needs to be considered when implementing AI into a corporate strategy, and we expect to see a reskilling of resources as organizations look to bolster their talent in this space.”
Most (87%) have hired or are hiring to catch up in the race for GenAI talent.
However, despite a clear intentionality to future-proof their organizations, CEOs (26%) find it hard to make decisions around allocating funds due to the rapid advancement of automation. Moreover, two-thirds of the top executive respondents report difficulty in identifying and implementing “credible ecosystem partnerships and acquisition targets” as more and more companies tout their AI expertise.
While 70% of business leaders understand the urgent need to deploy automation, nearly the same percentage reports also being hindered by uncertainty around this technology, making it difficult to act quickly.
“The AI transformation is not going to happen overnight. While CEOs are identifying and assessing the efficiency gains AI offers, the top-line growth opportunities are much more complicated. Finding clarity on AI-fueled growth among that complexity will be a key strategic aim, but it’s a longer-term goal,” said the EY global vice chair.