They also recognise productivity or profitability as key to achieving their business goals; ranking it their second highest priority (46%). However, they continue to face key barriers as they race to modernise and adopt new technologies like generative AI.
The annual CEO study, “CEO decision-making in the age of AI, Act with intention” found that African CEOs expect to realise significant value from advanced forms of AI and analytics such as cloud computing, automation, generative AI, deep learning, machine learning, advanced analytics, and more. However, African organisations face influential external factors hindering their AI readiness over the next three years. Over half (53%) of African CEOs identify technology factors as the most impactful force that could significantly impact their respective AI adoption journeys. Additionally, regional CEOs cite market factors (51%), regulatory factors (49%), and workforce and skills (33%) as leading external factors that are having the most significant impact on their organisations.
More than half (57%) of global CEOs surveyed cite concerns about data security, and 48% worry about bias or data accuracy - barriers they indicate could slow their adoption of generative AI. African CEOs face several data challenges, with nearly half of the respondents citing unclear data calculation and reporting across suppliers and partners (48%) as well as within their organisations (47%) as the most critical risks or barriers.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution has presented Africa with an opportunity to leapfrog various stages of economic development. Consequently, African organisations are leveraging generative AI and emerging innovation models to accelerate innovation, enhance customer experiences, productivity and profitability, and environmental sustainability, to name a few,” said Julia Carvalho, General Manager of IBM Africa Growth Markets. “However, it’s critical that CEOs in Africa establish and implement clear and consistent standards as it concerns the utilisation of AI across all areas of strategic focus, as this will determine the level of investment, and ultimately an organisation’s success in a rapidly advancing digital economy.”
Key study findings include:
Half of the respondents identified generative AI, deep learning, and machine learning as critical to success.
CEOs in Africa are increasingly looking toward operational, technology and data leaders as strategic decision-makers.
CEOs in Africa expect to realise significant value from advanced forms of AI and analytics. However, the absence of consistent standards in strategic focus areas is affecting investment.
39% of CEOs identify environmental sustainability as their greatest challenge over the next three years, followed by cybersecurity and talent recruiting/retention, at 28% each.
CEOs are wary about taking a public stand on social, geopolitical and ESG issues impacting customers and employees. While 73% of CEOs believe they should take a stand, 39% say they regret a public stand they have taken in the past three years.