Gartner: CEOs cite AI as the top disruptive technology

Report by Gartner found AI was the top technology that CEOs believe will significantly impact their industry over the next three years
Findings from Gartner's latest survey indicate that AI is the top technology that CEOs believe will significantly impact their business in the coming years

AI is the top technology that CEOs believe will significantly impact their industry in the future, research by Gartner has found.

Gartner’s recent survey of CEOs and senior executives revealed that AI was the top technology that CEOs believe will significantly impact their industry over the next three years, cited by 21% of survey respondents.

“Generative AI will profoundly impact business and operating models,” said Mark Raskino, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “However, fear of missing out is a powerful driver of technology markets. AI is reaching the tipping point where CEOs who are not yet invested become concerned that they are missing something competitively important.”

The 2023 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey was conducted from July through December 2022 among over 400 CEOs and other senior business executives in North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa, across different industries, revenue and company sizes.

Half of CEOs cite growth as top strategic business priority

Despite the impact of these economic headwinds, half of CEOs cited growth as the top strategic business priority for the next two years. Technology also remains a top focus area for CEOs, closely followed by workforce issues.

“When determining business priorities, CEOs are hesitant, but not frozen,” said Kristin Moyer, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “More than half of CEOs believe an economic downturn or recession in 2023 will be shallow and short, and the survey showed only a modest rise in cash flow, capital and fundraising concerns.”

Figure 1: CEOs’ Top Strategic Business Priorities for 2023-2024 (Sum of Top Three Mentions). Source: Gartner (May 2023)

“After three years of volatility, CEO priorities are stabilising,” said Raskino. “Executive leaders are looking past the aftershocks of the omnicrisis period to a time when talent, sustainability and next-level digital change will be the levers of competitive performance.”

In fact, mentions of environmental sustainability rose 25% over the previous year’s survey, which was the first time sustainability ranked among CEOs’ top 10 priorities. Gartner predicts that by 2026, environmental sustainability will be a higher CEO strategic business priority than the technology-related category.

Attracting and retaining talent Is top workforce priority

When asked about the impact of various risks on the business, 26% of CEOs cited the talent shortage as the most damaging risk for their organisation. Attracting and retaining talent is, by far, CEOs’ top workforce priority. Concerns about compensation are the biggest shift in employee and prospective employee behaviour that CEOs anticipate, followed by a desire for greater flexibility and remote or hybrid work.

“The emphasis on pay is not surprising in an inflationary environment, but in prior economic cycles, unemployment would typically be undermining labour market power,” said Raskino.

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