CEOs identify AI as the main theme of the next business transformation after digital

According to new research from Gartner, a global leader in business research and advice, CEOs' 62% (Chief Executive Officers) select growth as the top business priority for 2024. This is the highest level recorded since 2014 and represents an increase compared to research carried out last year, who had indicated this topic as a priority for 49% of the interviewees.

“Along with the focus on growth, the research shows a relatively weak position for cost management, suggesting that the majority of CEOs and senior executives believe that the most challenging economic times are behind us,” it says David Furlonger, Vice President and Analyst at Gartner. According to him, “we are entering a phase of increasing the confidence of business leaders and relaunching business strategies.”

The search '2024 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey' reveals that CEOs are adopting a growth mindset in their environments. It was conducted from July to December 2023 with 416 CEOs and senior executives from North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa, from companies of different industries, revenues and sizes.

Top 10 CEOs' Top Strategic Business Priorities for 2024 and 2025

Source: Gartner (May 2024)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is captivating CEOs

When asked about digital transformation, 34% of CEOs identified Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the main theme of the next business transformation after digital, followed by operational efficiency with 9%.

“Artificial Intelligence is replacing digital as the buzzword most mentioned by CEOs, largely due to Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI),” says Don Scheibenreif, Vice President and Analyst at Gartner. “The majority of CEOs interviewed by Gartner believe that the advances in Artificial Intelligence of 2023 have justified the hype of the technology sector. Now, they are trusting CIOs (Chief Information Officers), CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) and CDOs (Chief Digital Officers) to unlock the value of GenAI, showing that this is a team initiative when approaching these projects, and not just an experience that goes from leaders to subordinates.”

CEOs must address Artificial Intelligence, including GenAI:

CEOs are not deterred by negative outlooks towards Artificial Intelligence, as 87% agree that the benefits of AI to their business outweigh the risks. Other 90% CEOs agreed that the idea that Artificial Intelligence is an existential threat to humanity is exaggeration and unfounded alarm.

However, CEOs are not approaching Artificial Intelligence with an entirely positive point of view. Research shows that 56% said misinformation, Fake News and Deep Fakes will create operational problems. 29% see tight electricity supply and 53% see general supply chain issues as obstacles, largely due to GenAI and the demand the technology itself creates.

“CEOs should tolerate low-cost GenAI projects,” says Scheibenreif. “But they should avoid the temptation to try to control the use of GenAI centrally. The excitement and energy will be almost impossible to deal with.”

“CEOs must leave the cycle of hype work in your favor. The trough of disillusionment at GenAI will arrive soon – likely before the end of 2024. Therefore, they should allow the group to self-regulate and crack down only on experiments they believe are dangerous to their companies’ reputations.”

Gartner customers can read more at “2024 CEO Survey – The Year of Strategy Relaunches”.


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