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AI & Future Technologies

C-Suite members are optimistic but cautious about priorities and Gen AI’s impact, new study shows

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

In the new "Future of Professionals: C-Suite Survey", we look at what C-Suite executives see as short-term priorities and their perspectives on the ultimate impact of Gen AI

It’s a common refrain heard in most corporate offices today: C-Suite executives face a myriad of competing demands on their attention — everything from galloping innovation that threatens to leave slow adapters behind to constant pressure around budgets, rising expectations in key metrics like profit growth, and hard-to-read customer preferences.

In a new report, we gather the insights of corporate C-Suite members around how they see the future. This report follows up on the findings of Thomson Reuters Future of Professionals report, which focused on the predictions of legal, tax, and risk & compliance professionals themselves.

In the new report, Future of Professionals: C-Suite Survey, we explore what C-Suite executives view as their short-term priorities for their organizations, as well as their perspectives on generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI), one of the most game-changing innovations impacting companies today. Further, we compared the C-Suite’s responses to those from our previous research.

The Thomson Reuters Institute partnered with Morning Consult to conduct an online survey of 148 C-Suite executives in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada between October 2 and 10, 2023.

Survey respondents worked at a business or corporation with an annual revenue of $200 million or more (or equivalent foreign currency) and had one of the following job titles: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Product Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Technology Officer, or President.

A thread of optimism

A thread of C-Suite optimism tempered with a healthy dose of caution runs throughout this report — especially around Gen AI use and the future business environment.

It’s perhaps not surprising in undertaking this survey of C-Suite executives, we found that two of their top organizational priorities were improving efficiency/reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction — two priorities that strongly line up behind the twin goals of company sustainability and financial success. Also not surprising, when we asked how C-Suite members define success, respondents said they point to their company’s revenue and profit growth.

More interestingly, when we broke out our data to separate company CEOs (which made up 51% of our survey respondents) from the rest of the C-Suite, we saw that fewer CEOs rated such factors as increasing customer satisfaction or improving employee engagement & well-being as high priorities, compared to the overall C-Suite. Perhaps this just reflects what individual CEOs see as their role in the company, assuming — perhaps correctly — that other top managers will pick up the slack on these areas, and there are more pressing (to wit, financial) matters on which CEOs should focus.

While 91% of C-Suite executives say their organization is already using Gen AI or has plans to do so within the next 18 months, a majority of respondents also said they still have some concerns around Gen AI.

Noteworthy too, was when we looked at the responses from our survey of legal, tax, and risk & compliance department professionals, especially around questions of priorities. Overall, the top priorities of these company functions align pretty well with what their C-Suites are expecting of them. However, in all three functions, there are instances of misalignment — especially in cases in which the various departments are valuing their respective roles much higher than is the C-Suite, such as in improving efficiency or enabling company growth. Indeed, these misalignments may offer an opportunity for department leaders to demonstrate to corporate leadership the value that the department is bringing to these areas.

Speaking of alignment, the C-Suite’s views on Gen AI well complement their top three priorities — digital transformation, improving efficiency/reducing costs, and increasing customer satisfaction — with many C-Suite respondents saying they feel Gen AI can be leveraged to achieve these priorities and further, that all three priorities are good use cases for Gen AI.

And while 91% of C-Suite executives say their organization is already using Gen AI or has plans to do so within the next 18 months, a majority of respondents also said they still have some concerns around Gen AI.

Again, C-Suite optimism tempered with caution.

You can download the full Future of Professionals: C-Suite Survey report by filling out the form below:

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