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Stanton Chase Belgrade CEO Survey Report 2023: Artificial Intelligence and Business

Stanton Chase Belgrade CEO Survey Report 2023: Artificial Intelligence and Business

February 2024


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The past year has seen a marked uptick in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) across almost all business sectors. Therefore, our 16th CEO Survey explores how companies across various industries perceive AI, as well as their plans and opinions regarding its use.  

Artificial intelligence elicits a variety of reactions due to its numerous controversies, advantages, and challenges. However, it is important to keep in mind that the proper application of AI can significantly improve your business operations. Taking it seriously is, thus, imperative to your success.

But the AI landscape is changing. Governments are attempting to regulate its use as its possible business applications expand. This is advantageous in the sense that legislation will hopefully deter unethical AI uses. However, it also presents a challenge because it means businesses will face the obstacle of ensuring compliance with new laws while trying to integrate a technology that is unprecedented.

A draft version of the EU Regulation on Artificial Intelligence was approved in December 2023 to regulate every product or service utilizing AI systems. This first comprehensive law on artificial intelligence establishes rules for the application of AI under various risk levels, from minimal to unacceptable.  

AI systems will be required to meet specific standards before being permitted on the market. The law is expected to come into effect at the beginning of 2025. In 2024, the focus will inevitably be on understanding the impact of these regulations on businesses and the optimal use and implementation of AI.

Our CEO Survey 2023 Results

Our CEO survey included participants from various sectors. The highest percentage of respondents came from the Consumer Goods and Services and Professional Services sectors. The Technology, Industrial, and Financial Services sectors each had 12.9%, while 8.06% of respondents were from the Supply Chain, Logistics, and Transportation sector. Life Sciences and Healthcare accounted for 6.45% of respondents and the Government, Education, and Non-Profit sector was represented by 1.61%.

Out of all the respondents, 83.87% have held managerial positions for more than five years, while 70.97% of them have been in managerial positions for over 10 years.

Most of our respondents are from Generation X, born between the mid-1960s and about 1980. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, were the second most represented group. Here, we observe a generational shift as Baby Boomers, born between mid-1946 and mid-1964, are decreasing in number.

More than half of our respondents came from companies that have not yet implemented AI in their processes. Among those that have, most claim AI has replaced 10% of their workforce, suggesting a gradual and moderate shift from human labor to technological solutions. This likely reflects a cautious approach to AI implementation. A smaller group of respondents indicated that AI has replaced 20% of their human workforce; this points towards the fact that some companies have already undertaken more significant replacements.

The implementation of AI in business is a complex process that requires expertise in several areas. Without adequate human capacity, ensuring successful implementation can be a challenge. 

Our survey has revealed that although the intention to introduce AI exists, the readiness of businesses’ human capital to do so varies by industry. 

Just under half of the respondents indicated that their companies are already working with either their own or external AI teams, and almost 40% stated that they are planning to enhance their AI capabilities—which suggests that many of those without current AI teams recognize the benefits of AI in business.

The proper implementation of AI can significantly improve business operations. Among our respondents’ companies, the most positive effects are reflected in increased efficiency, reduced operational costs, and the development of innovative products and services.

Although the implementation of AI brings numerous benefits, we cannot ignore the fact that it also carries certain risks that can affect a company’s operations. According to our survey, the biggest challenge is an excessive dependence on IT functions. Comments from some respondents expressed the view that it might be too early to identify long-term impacts at this moment.

With the introduction of AI, the workforce also faces challenges and changes. The approach of our respondents’ companies to these changes is focused on supporting employees through pre-qualification, upskilling, reskilling, the reassignment of roles, business expansion, and the creation of new positions. 

Half of our respondents stated that the introduction of AI will not significantly affect their companies because artificial intelligence cannot replace human employees.

AI has a comprehensive impact on company values. It shapes the way business is conducted, innovation occurs, and interaction with the environment takes place. The majority of our respondents believe that artificial intelligence will increase efficiency by reducing errors due to the human factor. And nearly half of our respondents opine that it will contribute to an increase in innovation.

The introduction of AI into business requires leaders to possess certain key traits to successfully guide their organizations. Some of the most important attributes of a leader in the era of artificial intelligence include change management skills, a high degree of digital literacy, and visionary thinking.

AI is an exceptional opportunity for improving the development of employees and HR processes through several key benefits. These are, above all, faster and easier availability of vital information as well as reduction of time spent on administrative tasks. These benefits point to the potential of AI to transform the workplace, making it more productive, innovative, and focused on employee development.

Half of our respondents expect that the use of artificial intelligence will increase the risk of data protection, while a smaller proportion believe that there will be no significant increase. A significant percentage of respondents do not have enough information to make a final conclusion, which indicates the need for additional research of this new phenomenon and careful monitoring of the impact on data security.

The advancement of technology brings a range of benefits that create a conducive environment for innovation and business success. The introduction of AI has the potential to significantly transform the way leaders perform their duties and make decisions. According to our survey, the most significant impacts will be faster availability of data, improved data analysis, and increased efficiency.

AI enables businesses to enhance their efficiency and innovation. However, this technological progress also gives rise to serious ethical dilemmas that necessitate careful consideration for responsible implementation. The ethical concerns most cited by our respondents include the potential for manipulation due to misinformation, worries about privacy, security, and surveillance, as well as the risk of AI misinterpreting given parameters.

The diverse spectrum of responses to this question reflects the complexity of the role of artificial intelligence in the future of business leadership. While algorithms can optimize processes, according to the majority of our respondents, human decision-making abilities, creativity, and empathy remain irreplaceable dimensions of business leadership.

The question of the impact of AI on industries becomes crucial in the business community. Almost a third of respondents predict that artificial intelligence will lead to the complete disappearance of certain industries, but at the same time, it will generate new industries and jobs. On the other hand, half of the respondents believe that artificial intelligence will not entirely eliminate industries but will transform them.

What Do the Results of this Survey Mean for CEOs?

When it comes to AI integration, businesses need to travel a path that is currently still less travelled by, one that is marked by both daunting challenges and limitless opportunities. But like all business innovations that came before AI, it is a path that businesses will be well-rewarded for traversing if they come out whole on the other side.

Our CEO Survey indicates that corporate leaders are taking a cautious and gradual approach to AI implementation in their businesses, a snapshot of the long and winding road they must travel to full AI integration. Even so, more than half of the respondents come from companies yet to adopt AI, having not taken a step down the road they must yet travel.

You need the right amount of expertise in your C-suite and in your workforce to successfully implement AI. Our survey highlights that companies are addressing this by either working with existing teams or planning to build their AI capabilities through talent acquisition or external AI teams. When done properly, AI implementation can have a massive positive effect on efficiency, cost reduction, and the development of innovative products and services, meaning it’s an opportunity too valuable for companies to pass up.

While AI brings numerous benefits, the survey acknowledges the challenges and risks it also poses. We hope that after reading our latest CEO survey, you feel empowered to start or continue your own AI journey.

About the Author

Milos Tucakovic is a Managing Partner at Stanton Chase Belgrade. He is also Stanton Chase’s Consumer Products and Services Global Sector Leader.

Milos has almost two decades of executive search and leadership advisory experience, and prior to this accumulated nearly 30 years of human resources and management experience.

Milos is a member of the Serbian Association of Managers and Knowledge Committee of Serbia. He also lectures on management at the College of Hotel Management in Belgrade.

Executive Search
AI & Technology
Leadership Development

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