Jobs and the Future of Work

3 things CEOs must prepare to unlock the power of generative AI

Generative AI is poised to redefine the future of work.

While some CEOs may feel underprepared due to the perceived risks of generative AI, its transformative potential is undeniable. Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Patrick Tsang
Chief Executive Officer, China; Member of the Global Executive, Deloitte
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  • Generative AI is poised to redefine the future of work, as it presents unprecedented opportunities for innovation and efficiency.
  • To navigate the complexities of AI adoption and harness its full potential, CEOs should focus on three strategic moves.
  • These are: foster ecosystem collaboration; strategize technology investment; and build up generative AI talent.

Generative AI represents a transformative opportunity for businesses, promising to reshape industries, enhance productivity and drive innovation. However, the path to leveraging this technology is complex and fraught with challenges. To guide their ventures to success, CEOs need to prepare themselves strategically to unlock AI's full potential.

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CEOs underprepared for integrating generative AI

A recent Deloitte/Fortune CEO survey found over half of organizations are already implementing generative AI to accelerate automation and increase efficiencies. However, despite the buzz around the technology, some CEOs find themselves underprepared to integrate AI into their business strategies effectively. One primary reason is the perceived risk and complexity associated with AI technologies. Leaders often see generative AI as too risky or difficult to scale, reminiscent of past experiences with rapid technological adoption that led to fragmented systems and unexpected complications.

The strategic decisions regarding AI adoption require a deep understanding of the technology and its implications. Many CEOs, traditionally focused on broader business objectives, may lack the necessary technological insight to make informed decisions. This gap can hinder effective AI integration, leaving businesses lagging behind more technologically adept competitors.

The sheer pace of AI advancements adds to the challenge. With generative AI evolving rapidly, staying abreast of the latest developments and understanding their potential business impact demands continuous learning and adaptation – an area where many leaders feel outpaced.

... But the future of work is transforming

Generative AI is poised to redefine the future of work. Its ability to generate content, automate tasks, and provide advanced data analytics presents unprecedented opportunities for innovation and efficiency.

  • Value creation. AI-driven insights can lead to better strategic positioning and competitive differentiation. For instance, AI can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover market trends, customer preferences, and operational inefficiencies, thereby informing strategic decisions and optimizing business processes. A separate Deloitte survey shows that 70% of respondent companies with "very high" AI expertise have improved their existing products and services.
  • Scaling up. While the initial implementation of generative AI can be experimental, scaling it up is where the true value lies. Large-scale deployment amplifies AI's benefits, driving productivity gains and operational efficiencies across the organization. However, successful scaling requires a robust strategy that integrates AI into the core business processes and aligns with the overall business objectives.
  • Building trust. Businesses need to ensure the reliability and transparency of AI outputs to gain the trust of stakeholders, including employees and customers. Addressing issues such as AI "hallucinations" and enhancing explainability are crucial steps in building this trust. Fostering a culture where employees view AI as a tool to augment their capabilities rather than a threat to their jobs can drive acceptance and adoption.
  • Evolving workforce. Generative AI will inevitably impact the workforce, necessitating new skills and roles. A Deloitte study indicates that 75% of business leader respondents expect to change their talent strategies within two years in response to generative AI. Companies need to invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees to ensure they can effectively leverage AI technologies.

Strategic moves for CEOs to drive AI adoption

To navigate the complexities of AI adoption and harness its full potential, CEOs should focus on three strategic moves:

1. Foster ecosystem collaboration

Selecting the right AI ecosystems and large language models (LLMs) is crucial. CEOs should view their organization’s data as a valuable asset and leverage it to negotiate with AI vendors and partners. This involves choosing LLMs that align with the company's specific needs and industry requirements.

Collaborating with external AI experts can provide the necessary expertise and resources to implement AI solutions effectively. By fostering an ecosystem of collaboration, companies can stay at the forefront of AI advancements and ensure they are using the best available technologies.

2. Strategize technology investment

Investing in the right technology infrastructure is essential for AI adoption. This includes securing robust computing power to handle the demands of AI processing. CEOs should work closely with their CIOs and CTOs to align hardware procurement strategies with business objectives.

Furthermore, developing a comprehensive AI strategy that focuses on the business’s core value areas is crucial. This strategy should identify key use cases where AI can provide the most significant impact and outline a clear roadmap for implementation. By aligning AI investments with strategic business goals, companies can maximize the return on their AI initiatives.

3. Build up generative AI talent

Developing in-house AI talent is critical for sustained growth and innovation. This involves both upskilling existing employees and hiring new talent with specialized AI expertise. Training programmes should not only involve technical training, but also foster AI fluency across the organization to enable employees to understand and utilize AI in their work.

Image: Deloitte

Additionally, creating AI Centres of Excellence (COEs) can bring together AI experts and cross-functional teams to drive AI initiatives and establish best practices. The COEs also play a crucial role in managing risks, ensuring data quality and addressing workforce transformation, with governance frameworks to ensure responsible AI usage. The Deloitte AI Institute, for instance, helps transform the firm and our clients by uniting the brightest minds in AI services.

While some CEOs may feel underprepared due to the perceived risks of AI, its transformative potential is undeniable. To effectively harness this potential, leaders must make strategic moves to navigate the complexities of AI adoption and position their organizations for sustained growth and competitive advantage in the future.

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