Belgian CEOs rely on GenAI to harness their companies for the future

Belgian CEOs rely on GenAI to harness their companies for the future

CEOs around the globe overwhelmingly see generative AI as a catalyst for change according to the 27th Annual CEO Survey with 4,207 CEOs participating 

Diegem, 16 January 2024 - Almost 1 out of 3 Belgian CEOs state generative artificial intelligence has already been implemented in their businesses. According to PwC’s newest Annual CEO Survey, held in November amongst 4,702 CEOs worldwide, most CEOs believe generative AI will push businesses to reinvent themselves.

The survey, which interviewed 4,702 CEOs across 105 countries and territories, found that 38% of CEOs are optimistic about global economic growth prospects over the next 12 months, up from 18% in 2023.The outlook of Belgian CEOs, however, reflects a nuanced perspective on economic prospects. While a significant portion of CEOs, 41%, expresses optimism regarding the global economy's improvement, an equal proportion (40%) anticipates a decline. This conservative outlook at a global level is even less optimistic when it comes to Belgian CEOs’ confidence in the Belgian economy, with only 32% foreseeing growth and 24% expecting stagnation. While the overall trajectory is positive, confidence is fragile as megatrends including technological disruption and the climate transition converge. 

GenAI as a driver for change

Reflecting uncertainty about how they will manage megatrends, CEOs are more acutely aware of the need for fundamental reinvention of their business. “To my surprise and despite ever increasing volatility, business leaders are becoming less concerned about macroeconomic challenges. Fortunately, the impact of climate and technological change does cause concern and is compelling business leaders to reinvent their businesses,” comments Axel Smits, Chairman of PwC Belgium. As technological development is and has been a constant driver for change in companies, the rise of GenAI in 2023 is pushing CEOs to adapt. The eagerness is great: over 80% of Belgian CEOs are convinced that GenAI will change the way their company creates, delivers and captures value in the next three years (compared to 70% at global level), but implementation is lagging - not even 1 out of 3 stated that GenAI has been adopted within their companies. 

As a country of tech enthusiasts, it’s no wonder the excitement for generative AI as a driver for change is greater in Belgium than the global average. While the appetite for implementing GenAI may be high, companies shouldn’t underestimate the impact and challenges for Belgium’s workforce. A successful transformation requires a clear analysis of the overall implications on businesses and effective change management. Failing to take that into consideration can result in companies missing out on the opportunities AI offers, and compromising their long-term future,” says Smits.

AI potential across industries

PwC is convinced that AI will transform the way companies operate in a very invasive manner. Both ethical and legal considerations should be taken into account before implementing AI. Defining clear objectives, setting out realistic expectations but above all greater focus on continuous learning for employees will be crucial to find the right balance and deliver a sustainable outcome.  

“Financial planning, medical diagnosis, customised retail offerings, and models of individual customer behaviour are only a few examples where GenAI can make a difference for our industries.” explains Xavier Verhaeghe, Technology lead at PwC Belgium, “Soon, AI will transform transportation, manufacturing, healthcare and many more. This evolution will require a cultural shift in our workforce, and a deep understanding of GenAI’s data, tools, technical and ethical dimensions, as well as its impact on both business outcomes and people's experience will be necessary.”

Belgium’s enthusiastic, but implementation rate lower than UK and Nordics

Where Belgians are more pronouncedly believers in generative AI compared to the global average, they are still somewhat more reticent when it comes to implementing it than other European countries such as Finland, Denmark, Norway and the UK where both confidence and adoption rates are higher. Germany, France, Spain, Austria are lagging behind with low adoption rates and a tempered eagerness. 

Increased CEO productivity and development of new skills

As an operational consequence, companies expect GenAI to improve employee efficiency in the workplace, and  7 out of 10 respondents expect most of their workforce to have to develop new skills.  4 out of 10 believe GenAI will increase their company’s profitability by more than 5%. On a global level, the technology, media and communications sector is most positive about the impact on profitability (54%), while respondents in the energy, utilities and resources sectors are least optimistic (36%). In addition, CEOs are convinced GenAI will also boost the efficiency of how they spend their own time.

Concerns about cybersecurity and responsible AI

While enthusiasm is significant, Belgian CEOs do see potential unintended consequences in the implementation of GenAI such as higher cybersecurity risks and the spread of misinformation within their companies. ”Responsible AI (RAI) principles are increasingly important with the rise of new generative AI models and upcoming regulation, such as the recent EU AI act,  in the sector. RAI can also be a competitive advantage because consumers have growing concerns about privacy and biased decisions,” states Xavier Verhaeghe.

About the 27th Annual PwC Global CEO Survey 

PwC surveyed 4,702 CEOs across 105 countries and territories from 2 October through 10 November 2023. The global and regional figures are weighted proportionally to country nominal GDP. The industry and country-level figures are based on unweighted data from the full sample of 4,702 CEOs. The full findings can be accessed on pwc.com/ceosurvey, and the interviews can be found at strategy-business.com/inside-the-mind-of-the-ceo.

https://www.pwc.be/en/services/consulting/technology-consulting/artificial-intelligence.html

Press contact

Tess Minnens - [email protected] - +32 497 38 34 31

About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 151 countries with more than 364,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

© 2024 PwC. All rights reserved.

About PwC Belgium

Building trust and delivering sustained outcomes

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 151 countries with more than 364,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us  what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

© 2023 PwC. All rights reserved.

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