Skip to main content

Generative AI Trends: Key Insight for Executive Leaders

As founder of the Business Technology Roundtable, I can advise senior executives on rapidly emerging technologies and their potential impact on digital business transformation.

One of the most significant and potentially disruptive technologies today is Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI). Powered by advances in machine learning, this technology refers to AI systems that can generate new content, such as text, images, audio, video, and more in response to prompts from humans.  

The pace of advancement in Generative AI has been astounding. Since the public release of ChatGPT in November 2022, tool capabilities have continued to grow at breakneck speed.

Business interest has followed suit – attracted by the vast potential to drive efficiency, productivity, innovation, and digital business growth. However, along with the enthusiasm, important questions remain regarding effective adoption approaches, risk management, workforce retraining, and ethical implications.

To better understand current Generative AI adoption and business leader perspectives, Deloitte recently completed an insightful global survey of over 2,800 executives who are actively piloting or implementing GenAI tools within their organization.

As leaders race to capitalize on meaningful and substantive application possibilities, the key findings deliver an important reality check on current priorities, progress, and concerns.

Excitement Remains High Amidst Great Expectations

  • 62 percent of surveyed executives ranked 'excitement' as a top emotion when thinking about generative AI use cases, tinged with some uncertainty.
  • 79 percent expect generative AI to substantially transform their organization within 3 years – 31 percent in less than a year.
  • 91 percent believe it will boost productivity, 27 percent significantly.

The results confirm strong, sustained enthusiasm for generative AI amongst the global early adopters, with transformative digital business impacts expected soon.

However, as pilots progress to production, realizing the technology’s full potential while managing risks and unintended consequences will be critical.  

Many Leaders Express Confidence in GenAI Expertise 

  • 44 percent rate their organization as 'highly expert' in generative AI, quite surprising given its early stage.
  • Those rating expertise very high also view generative AI more positively overall.
  • However, they also feel more pressure to adopt it quickly and see it as more threatening to existing business models.

As the pace of change accelerates, maintaining a “beginner’s mindset” will help ensure that organizations stay open to new ideas and possibilities.

Regardless of perceived expertise today, there will always be more to learn about rapidly advancing technologies like Generative AI.

Current Focus Remains on Efficiency and Cost Reduction 

  • 56 percent of organizations are primarily applying generative AI to improve efficiency and productivity.
  • 35 percent are focused on reducing costs.
  • Only 29 percent are currently targeting innovation and growth.

While early results will likely come from optimizing existing processes, the most transformational benefits will emerge as organizations move up the value creation curve.

They will need to reinvest efficiency gains into developing the specialized industry solutions and capabilities needed to drive competitive differentiation. 

Most Organizations Use Off-the-Shelf GenAI Solutions

  • 71 percent are relying on productivity applications with integrated generative AI capabilities.
  • 61 percent are leveraging enterprise platforms with embedded generative AI.
  • Just 23 percent have adopted tailored, industry-specific generative AI software.  

As GenAI tool adoption expands, demand will grow for more customized solutions aligned to organizational needs and data assets.

To maximize value creation, GenAI strategies must consciously focus on innovation and differentiation over time, not just quick hits.

 Talent, Governance, and Risk Preparedness are Lacking

  • Only 22 percent feel 'highly prepared' to address generative AI talent requirements.
  • Just 25 percent believe they are highly prepared to tackle governance and risk.
  • 78 percent agree that expanded government regulation of AI is needed.

Realizing generative AI’s potential while keeping risks in check will require coordinated advances in technology, talent, and trust.

Organizations must significantly invest in skills development, technical capabilities, and responsible oversight mechanisms to extract the full value.

Potential Societal Impacts of GenAI are Top-of-Mind

  • 51 percent expect generative AI to increase economic inequality globally.
  • 49 percent believe its rise may erode overall trust in institutions.   

With great power comes great responsibility. As generative AI infiltrates business and society, executives must weigh its benefits against ethical risks, and lead accordingly within their organizations – not wait for external intervention.

The Suggested Next Steps for Senior Executives

While insights from Deloitte’s survey reveal valuable signs of early progress, they also highlight gaps in preparedness as the scale of digital transformation accelerates.

Here are some next steps for executives to consider:

  • Maintain beginner’s minds: There will always be more to learn about rapidly changing technologies like generative AI. Stay curious, humble, and adaptable even as your experience improves.
  • Extend pilots to production: Don’t get stuck in endless cycles of small-scale experimentation. Commit to scaling adoption with governance and talent to deliver material outcomes.
  • Reinvest for innovation: Channel efficiency gains from early generative AI successes into developing strategic business differentiators that drive digital growth.
  • Customize for competitive advantage: Complement off-the-shelf solutions with specialized industry-specific models and data tailored to your unique business.
  • Mitigate risks proactively: Implement capabilities to monitor models and validate outputs. Update policies dynamically as technologies and regulations evolve.
  • Reskill talent continually: Identify generative AI talent needs across your workforce early. Offer extensive learning to complement employee skills with new technology.  

In the exponential world of generative AI development and adoption, organizations cannot afford to stand still. Executives must lead dynamically to transform uncertainty into an upside opportunity today and a competitive advantage for tomorrow.

The key decisions made at this embryonic stage of generative AI emergence may profoundly impact digital business outcomes for years to come – making this a time for bold proactive investment, not fearful or cautious stagnation.

That said, I believe the GenAI laggards could become left behind. Moreover, I anticipate that the demand to focus on use cases aligned with desired business outcomes will require superior skills combined with deep domain industry experience.

That's why I predict the rise of a GenAI Polymath role. The large enterprise leadership demand for these unique individuals is somewhat inevitable.