business survey

A survey of 231 CEOs in the U.S. conducted by PwC finds 44% expect generative artificial intelligence (AI) to drive a net increase in profits in the next 12 months, with 61% acknowledging that competitive intensity within their vertical sector is also going to simultaneously increase.

More than two thirds (68%) expect generative AI to increase the amount of work employees can accomplish in the next 12 months, the survey finds.

In general, 2024 will be the year most organizations will focus on operationalizing generative AI, says Bret Greenstein, data and AI leader for PwC. While generative AI is already being widely used to automate tasks, most organizations will be focused on aggregating their data in a way that makes it possible to embed generative AI deeper into business processes, he added.

In fact, many organizations are already starting to designate specific leaders to achieve that goal, notes Greenstein. “We’re starting to see chief AI officers being appointed,” he says.

Overall, the survey finds that number one priority (52% is to find ways to generate new streams of revenue in the next three years.

Of course, every organization is, at the very least, experimenting with generative AI. The issue now will be determining to what degree is generative AI becoming table stakes for automating routine processes versus being an enabler of sustainable competitive advantages. The one thing that is certain is organizations that don’t invest in generative AI will be left behind. That’s a significant issue because organizations that do invest will begin to see benefits that compound as they gain more generative AI expertise, notes Greenstein. Laggards will not be able to catch up as easily as they might have when previous disruptive technologies emerged, he adds.

Organizations, as always, will need to determine when it makes sense to buy a service or platform versus attempting to build their own large language models (LLMs), says Greenstein. The issue with building an LLM to drive a generative AI application is that by the time an organization completes it, providers of AI services such as OpenAI will have made the next big leap forward, he added. Many of the capabilities that an organization invested time and effort building will be rendered redundant by a service that is making that capability available to everyone, notes Greenstein.

It’s clearly still early days as far as adoption of generative AI is concerned. More salespeople than ever, for example, are using it to craft better messaging, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that more customers are reading emails crafted with the aid of generative AI tools. It only increases the likelihood that the messages being sent are more relevant and engaging, thanks in part to the summarization capabilities that generative AI platforms enable.

In the meantime, it appears that much of the irrational exuberance that characterized generative AI in 2023 is giving way to practicality. There is no doubt generative AI will have a massive impact on almost every business process, but it’s also clear that identifying use cases that will make organizations more competitive will require deeper insights, especially as organizations initially focus on the same low-hanging opportunities to automate routine tasks.