There will be a near universal adoption of generative AI in businesses, say bosses

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An overwhelming majority (91 percent) of executives say that their companies are now using generative AI or are planning to do so within the next 18 monthsAn overwhelming majority (91 percent) of executives say that their companies are now using generative AI or are planning to do so within the next 18 months, according to a new poll from Thomson Reuters. The Thomson Reuters Future of Professionals C-Suite Survey reported on responses from 148 C-Suite leaders (CFOs, CEOs etc) from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The survey suggests that use of AI across businesses is becoming ubiquitous as leaders start to recognize the true potential of the technology, such as in developing new products and driving operational efficiency.

C-Suite executives believe the key roles generative AI (Gen AI) could have in their businesses as increasing customer satisfaction (41 percent), accelerating digital transformation (37 percent), and improving operational efficiency (37 percent). Going forward, when asked about the top uses of Gen AI over the next 18 months, 73 percent of the C-Suite surveyed said ‘developing new products and services’ was a priority, and 81 percent said gen AI would help in ‘reducing spend on external services and contractors’.

More broadly, among CEO respondents, more than one-third (35 percent) said they thought Gen AI could help them improve employee engagement and wellbeing. Laura Clayton McDonnell, President of Corporates at Thomson Reuters says: “C-Suite leaders are clearly recognising the potential value of integrating AI into their businesses, seeing that it can play a critical role in driving, growth, innovation and efficiency.”

Despite recognising the opportunities, 87 percent of C-Suite leaders also believe they have cause for at least some concern about AI. Among those respondents who felt this way, several reasons were cited, including concerns over data privacy, training and regulatory impact. Preventing consequences from inaccurate Gen AI responses was among the biggest concerns, alongside privacy and security, with 34 percent very concerned about each.

Ethical, legal and regulatory matters also generated anxiety, including ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations and ensuring that generative AI tools are used ethically and responsibly, with 28 percent very concerned about each. A considerable number of respondents also believe generative AI makes regulatory compliance more challenging (30 percent).

C-Suite leaders are taking steps to mitigate some of their concerns with Gen AI and to help ensure they can harness its potential in a safe and trusted way. Proactive steps employed by companies include putting in place an organisation-wide policy regarding employees’ use of these tools, reported by 74 percent; with another 21 percent reporting department wide policies are in place.

Training is also employed by companies to harness the potential of AI, with 72 percent reporting some kind of generative AI training offered online and completed at the employee’s pace.

Clayton McDonnell continued, “C-suite leaders have indicated that they are taking a pragmatic approach to Gen AI, coupling their growing use of the technology with a focus on training, investment in AI policies and collaborative efforts with trusted partners. A sensible and balanced approach shouldn’t hinder anyone in the C-Suite from ensuring their business makes the most of the opportunities that generative AI provides.”