CEOs recognize AI's transformative impact, with 44% prioritizing its investment. Despite anticipating a long-term ROI, they value AI for profitability, efficiency, innovation, and cyber security. Challenges include employee adoption, ethical concerns, technical skills, and regulatory gaps. 80% see regulation as a barrier, yet 72% don't view job redundancy as a major issue. CEOs must lead in adopting responsible AI practices, balancing potential risks and benefits, and preparing for increased scrutiny and regulation.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing almost every domain of human activity and becoming an integral part of our daily lives, businesses, and society. With the rising prominence of tools like Bard and ChatGPT, CEOs are increasingly acknowledging the vast potential of generative AI. However, CEOs are split about it being their top investment priority, with 44 percent indicating that it is and 48 percent that it is not (8 percent could not decide). 80 percent anticipate that it will take more than five years to realise a return on investment into generative AI technology, even though it will not be a challenge to implement. However, 80% CEOs cite the lack of industry regulations and direction for generative AI as a barrier for their organization's success.

Generative AI is transforming business - promising innovation and efficiency. CEOs, while addressing challenges, are committed to responsibly leveraging AI's potential, ensuring ethical use and robust governance, paving the way for prosperous growth and a tech-enabled future.

Nizar Hneini
Partner, Head of Digital & Innovation
KPMG in Qatar

Despite the level of investment prioritisation for generative AI, CEOs see value in implementing the technology. This includes increased profitability (24 percent), increased efficiency and productivity through automating routine operations (20 percent), increased innovation (16 percent), response to fraud detection and cyber-attack response (16 percent), job creation (12 percent), new product and market growth opportunities (8 percent), and faster data analysis (4 percent). It is clear that CEOs are not only recognizing but also capitalizing on the transformative potential of generative AI.

44 %

of CEOs say generative AI is a top investment priority despite uncertain economic conditions...

...and they expect to see returns from their investments in:

          3 to 5 years

          More than 5 years

Diversification, Cybersecurity and Sustainability are key focus areas for us at Vodafone Qatar. Taking cognizance of global and regional telecom challenges, we prioritize diversification through ICT, fintech, and digital platforms with strong underlying usage of AI, Big Data, and Automation. Our commitment to cybersecurity, protecting over 2 million customers, involves constant technological upgrades and advancements. Sustainability is woven into our business fabric, focusing on digital enrichment, human prosperity, and safeguarding the planet.

Sheikh Hamad Abdulla Jassim Al-Thani
Vodafone Qatar

Their forward-thinking approach underscores the technology's pivotal role in shaping a more efficient, innovative, and prosperous future for businesses. 

CEOs recognize that emerging technologies can introduce challenges that should be addressed. The challenges they note include adoption amongst employees (68 percent), ethical challenges (64 percent), technical capability and skills to implement AI (60 percent), cost of implementation (52 percent), and the lack of regulation in this space (48 percent). In fact, 80 percent of CEOs agree that the lack of current regulations and direction for generative AI within their industry will be a barrier to their organization's success. Another potential concern from employees is job redundancy and job loss, which 16 percent of CEOs believe that this is not a challenge and 84 percent believe it is. CEOs awareness of these challenges provides an opportunity and gives them a head start in addressing them.

Apart from the challenges noted above, CEOs are also grappling with how AI technologies could heighten cyber security risks. 84 percent agree that generative AI is a double-edge sword in that it may aid in the detection of cyber-attacks but may also provide new attack strategies for adversaries. With all the attention that has been placed on cyber security in the past few years, CEOs are confident (64 percent) that they are well prepared for any cyber-attack.

It is essential for CEOs to lead from the front, ensuring their organizations adopt responsible, robust AI frameworks and focus on safeguarding and governance. As scrutiny and regulation of AI increases, organizations may need policies and practices they can articulate and apply with confidence to complement their operational efficiency initiatives.