Potential of AI is putting a smile on the faces of optimistic CEOs

CEOs are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and investing in reskilling their people to ensure they have the capabilities to successfully exploit new technologies. The CEOs of the world’s largest companies are increasingly optimistic about future growth, with 66 percent highly positive about the global outlook over the next three to five years. This is the headline finding of the second annual Arthur D. Little (ADL) CEO Insights Study, which was launched today. The study found that whatever their strategy or sector, global CEOs are increasing their growth investments. Artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as crucial to growth, with 96 percent of CEOs having already deployed AI in some form, although, demonstrating the early stages of its adoption, just 13 percent have a compelling, enterprise-wide AI strategy in place.

Importantly, CEOs understand that to get the best from AI, they need to focus on their people. Fifty-nine percent say they have a strong or very strong need to reskill their workforces to meet changing requirements, up from 13 percent in 2023. This trend is particularly pressing in sectors such as manufacturing, with a 63 percent increase in the need to reskill, and financial services (+55 percent).

Alongside AI and reskilling, the third growth focus for CEOs is environmental, social, and governance (ESG). Over three-quarters (77 percent) are embedding ESG holistically across their organization, with CEOs believing its impact on growth strategies will increase by 26 percent over the next three years.

Attitudes and plans do vary between sectors and regions. Seventy-eight percent of Asian CEOs forecast positive growth over the next three to five years, compared to 55 percent of those in South America, for example. Turning to AI, 69 percent of financial services CEOs had a company wide strategy or strategic view in place, in contrast to 56 percent of energy & utility companies.

Nick White, Managing Partner, Arthur D. Little UK, comments: “The positive findings from the 2024 CEO Insights Study echo our own experiences from talking to UK CEOs. At a recent high-level event in London to discuss these findings, participants expressed growing optimism that economic headwinds are abating, but understood that they need to accelerate their efforts to adapt as new technologies such as AI bring both challenges and opportunities, all while keeping a focus on ESG, which is now well-integrated into normal business operations.”

The Arthur D. Little 2024 CEO Insights Study interviewed nearly 300 global CEOs leading companies with a turnover of more than $1 billion. Thirty-nine percent headed businesses with annual revenues of over $10 billion. Study respondents are split between key industries and geographies to give unrivaled insight into the minds of those running the world’s biggest organizations.