3 Key Takeaways from C-Level Executives on Generative AI

Community Blog
Written by Clare Ryan

AUGUST 1, 2023

It seems everyone, everywhere is talking about generative AI. Almost from the moment Open AI launched ChatGPT in 2022, business news (and our LinkedIn feeds!) have been dominated by the possibilities and risks of using generative artificial intelligence in the business world.

It was certainly a hot topic among Evanta communities this spring. Regardless of their role – from CDAOs to CFOs and from CIOs and CISOs to CHROs – executives wanted to talk about AI and learn more about it in our sessions and facilitated discussions. They are always interested in learning from their peers at other organizations, so we decided to use our Pulse Survey this spring to ask C-level executives about generative AI. 

We wondered if they were using it, how, and what they viewed as the opportunities and risks. One of the biggest takeaways from the June survey was that more than half of executives are already using it at their organizations.

54% report their organizations are using ChatGPT or other generative AI tools

Many executives report that they are using AI tools in an “ad hoc” or “exploratory” way at this point. One wrote that they are engaged in “ad-hoc use with guidance given to ensure sensitive data isn't entered into the tools.” Others said they are “exploring potential use cases” or “experimenting and looking for how to put guardrails around it.”

For the 46% of respondents who are not using it, we asked why their organizations had not adopted it yet. Many indicated that individuals were testing it out or piloting AI tools, but there were no official policies or use cases. For some, it is too early to adopt it. One executive wrote, “We are not there yet – other maturities are needed before we move to this.” Another leader noted that “we are still defining our strategy in this space.”

Here are three other big takeaways from our survey on generative AI and its impact on business.

1. Their outlook on the future of AI is quite positive.

81% of C-level executives describe their outlook on the future of generative AI as either “somewhat positive” or “very positive.” Less than 4% report that they feel somewhat or very negative about it.

Across the C-level roles, Chief Data and Analytics Officers (CDAOs) have the most positive outlook, with 90% saying they feel “somewhat” or “very positive” about the impact of generative AI, which perhaps reflects the possibilities they see for data analysis and summarization. 

CHROs, while still quite positive, are the least likely to be “somewhat” or “very positive” at 77% of respondents, and they have a slightly higher percentage of executives who are neutral about AI (18%). This might also reflect the reality of their roles in managing employees who have concerns about artificial intelligence and the effects it might have on their jobs and tasks.

2. Their biggest concerns are data privacy and security.

Across all C-level roles, the biggest concerns executives have about AI tools are data privacy and security risks, with 23% citing each of those concerns. Twenty percent also report they are worried about how to manage their workforce using AI tools. The same concerns were cited quite similarly, regardless of the respondents’ role in the C-suite.

3. They believe AI will improve business processes in the future.

Overall, business leaders think that generative AI will improve processes at their organizations in the future. Twenty-eight percent believe that AI will create operational efficiencies, and 25% think that it will remove tedious tasks from the workforce. Nineteen percent say that it will improve customer experience.

When we asked what other effects of AI they anticipate in the future, executives had interesting comments, reflecting a mix of the possible positive and negative outcomes. 

It is quite likely the most disruptive technology in modern history.”

It will disrupt the current ecosystem of major digital platforms.”

It could be weaponized and used against us.”

It will extend the capabilities of our current staff.”

AI will improve the speed of outcomes.”

It will free our staff up to innovate.”

For more findings from our survey of more than 1,100 executives, the complete results are here in our infographic.

If you are navigating the complexities of generative AI, be sure to check out our calendar for an opportunity to discuss this topic with your peers. Or, find your local Evanta community here on our website and apply to join.