Generative AI has emerged as an investment priority for CEOs despite the risks it poses, according to a recent KPMG study. Findings of the study reveal that CEOs continue to pour money into AI technology, which they believe will give them a competitive edge.
This comes as businesses from across sectors are assessing the potential that generative AI brings to their operations as the technology continues to gain recognition.
Bullish sentiment on generative AI
The KPMG 2023 Outlook surveyed 1,300 CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, which showed that political uncertainties and geopolitics weigh on business growth and are perceived as the top risks. These concerns appear unique to 2023, as they did not even make it into the top five in 2022.
However, CEOs are upbeat about generative AI. This has become a top investment priority for most businesses due to its ability to enhance the customer experience, derive revenue growth, and optimize costs.
According to the report, about 70% of CEOs agree that generative AI remains high on their lists of priorities and strongly believe they will see a return on investment in the next three to five years.
“Business leaders are facing challenges and obstacles to growth on multiple fronts, from geopolitical uncertainty and politicization to increased stakeholder expectations in the ESG space and the adoption of generative AI,” said KPMG International global CEO and chairman Bill Thomas.
According to the research, businesses are investing heavily in generative AI as they seek to leverage its transformative power and stay ahead of the race in the cutthroat business environment. Of the surveyed CEOs, 52% are certain such investments will start bringing positive results in three to five years, despite the challenges.
“What I find reassuring is that, despite the many macro-economic and geopolitical challenges right now, mid-term global confidence remains relatively robust. There’s a consensus that we can, in time, return to a path of international, sustainable long-term growth,” said Thomas.
There are concerns too
Although the CEOs expressed willingness to push AI into their investment agendas, they were not short of reservations. They cited ethical concerns as the biggest challenge to the implementation of generative AI in their businesses. Despite gaining support from all sectors, generative AI has also been criticized for several reasons, among them biases of all forms against minorities coupled with being open to manipulation into creating malicious content.
Apart from ethical concerns, the cost of implementation came in second at 55%, while lack of clear regulation and technical capability jointly ranked third at 50%.
“Generative AI is an increasingly hot topic in board rooms, with leaders looking to better understand its potential and how to implement this technology in their business strategies,” said KPMG International global chief digital officer Lisa Heneghan.
“The challenge is spending the money in the right places and with the right skills to fully exploit the opportunities it presents. AI is unquestionably the internet moment of our time.”
While there have been fears of job losses due to AI, experts have called on businesses to adopt the technology to remain relevant.
Heneghan therefore highlighted the need for businesses to adopt “responsible, robust AI frameworks” while leveraging on the technology’s ability to “genuinely unlock value for the business, its people, and wider society.”