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The Impact of AI on Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a powerful catalyst for global transformation, prompting organizations across Europe to embrace generative AI. A recent study conducted by IBM titled ‘Leadership in the Age of AI’ explores how leadership is evolving amidst the adoption […]

The Impact of AI on Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a powerful catalyst for global transformation, prompting organizations across Europe to embrace generative AI. A recent study conducted by IBM titled ‘Leadership in the Age of AI’ explores how leadership is evolving amidst the adoption of AI in the region.

The growth of generative AI in 2023 has been remarkable, with technology becoming mainstream in the consumer market. Advanced leaders have quickly responded to secure their position in this emerging transformation.

It is certain that in 2024, a large number of companies will join the AI movement, and the pressure to make the right decisions and lead effectively is felt throughout the C-suite. The report reveals that 96% of respondents who have already implemented or plan to implement generative AI are actively involved in shaping new ethical and governance frameworks.

As executives across Europe strive to harness the potential of AI while navigating growing security threats and evolving regulatory and ethical environments, the report delves into what leadership in the age of AI truly entails.

Ana Paula Assis, the President and General Manager for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at IBM, said, “AI is the ultimate challenger – a powerful catalyst with the potential to drive transformative global progress. And its rapid rise presents Europe, home to 7 out of 10 of the world’s most innovative countries, with an opportunity to take a leading role. But that doesn’t mean leaders are careless about the challenges. Concerns about governance, ethics, and safety are top of mind for every executive striving to securely and responsibly adopt AI. It is a responsibility that extends across every aspect of business – from data to people, to the broader societal community. And success calls for the kind of organizational change that few are ready to embrace.”

“While no organization wants to be left behind, in the eyes of their customers, investors, employees, and peers, permission to leverage this exciting new technology is required. And that permission comes in the form of trust. This moment calls for trustworthy leadership that nurtures good governance in every action taken. All successful AI strategies will be reliant on effective, responsible AI management – and achieving good outcomes will ensure companies are ready to reap the benefits of the AI revolution.”

Key findings include:

Addressing growing pressure:
– Leading experts participating in the survey highlight that the three biggest sources of pressure to adopt generative AI come not only from competitors or consumers, but also from employees, board members, and investors.
– This arises primarily from the desire for modernization and improving operational efficiency (45%), using AI to automate routine processes and freeing up employees to take on higher-value jobs while fostering innovation. This is followed by the potential technology has to enhance the customer experience (43%) and increase sales results (38%).
– In response to the AI agenda set by the board, almost all respondents (95%) emphasized the potential of generative AI to enable better leadership decision-making.

Leadership in transparency and ethics:
– When faced with the challenges of implementing generative AI, respondents identified the importance of using the technology within an ethical and inclusive framework as a primary challenge, followed by the pressure to hire experts and cost implications.
– While regulatory bodies across Europe are rapidly developing AI-related policy frameworks, business leaders themselves must take ownership and responsibility for key issues, citing security implications (including privacy and surveillance) as fundamental to responsible AI application.

Maintaining a focus on continuous skill development:
– Improving AI-related skills has proven to be a crucial priority, with 95% of leading experts participating in the survey stating that they are taking steps to ensure the right AI skills within their organizations. Respondents prioritized upskilling existing staff over hiring new experts and outsourcing to technology providers.
– Executive leaders are also actively involved in acquiring knowledge about generative AI technology (44%), regulatory and compliance environments (41%), and ethical implications (41%).
– In addition to intensive education, they are also taking proactive, personal responsibility for framing: 74% of leaders plan to engage in active discussions with colleagues or collaborate with policy-makers on regulating AI implementation.
– Despite these strong conversations, there is still room for improvement. While 91% of respondents claim to have a good understanding of the regulatory context, a significantly smaller percentage (54%) feel clarity about what it means for their business.

“European policymakers need active and long-term engagement from business leaders in order to create a regulatory framework that is both effective and aligned with the goal,” said Bola Rotibi, Research Director at CCS Insight. She added that “developing skills by investing in available AI and generative AI training programs and seeking expert assistance ensures that both technologies will be effectively utilized within an organization.”

Watsonx, IBM’s pioneering AI and data management platform, is based on three components: a studio for constructing and training foundational models, a data repository specifically designed for AI needs, and an insurance management tool. The platform takes a holistic approach, incorporating ethical principles and governance at every level to enable organizations to implement reliable, responsible AI.

IBM recommends four key principles for an AI strategy:

– Prioritize value creation: Any organization looking to leverage AI to its fullest potential should engage in the full creative potential of foundational models instead of relying on third parties for their capabilities, strategy, and data.
– Invest in the community: Regardless of where AI goes in the future, one closed model will not rule everything. By integrating a combination of the best open source, proprietary, and proprietary models, companies can maximize the use of open AI resources and generative intelligence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. What is generative AI?
Generative AI refers to AI systems that are capable of creating original content, such as images, text, or music, based on patterns and data they have been trained on.

Q2. How are European business leaders approaching the implementation of AI?
European business leaders are actively involved in shaping ethical and governance frameworks for AI implementation. They prioritize transparency, ethics, and the responsible use of AI in their organizations.

Q3. What are the challenges of implementing generative AI?
The challenges of implementing generative AI include ensuring ethical and inclusive frameworks, hiring experts, and understanding the cost implications. Security considerations, including privacy and surveillance, are also fundamental to responsible AI application.

Q4. How are organizations improving AI skills?
Organizations are prioritizing upskilling their existing staff in AI-related skills rather than solely relying on hiring new experts or outsourcing to technology providers. They are actively investing in training programs and seeking expert assistance to effectively utilize AI within their organizations.

Q5. What principles are recommended for an AI strategy?
IBM recommends prioritizing value creation, investing in the AI community through a blend of open-source and proprietary models, fostering a responsible and ethical approach to AI, and embracing continuous learning and development.

(Source: IBM)