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The speed of technological change is seen by CEOs as one of the top ten threats to the growth prospects of their organizations, according to PwC in its latest study [download page] of more than 1,300 CEOs. The report also uncovered that, due to skills gaps, more than half (55%) believed that they are not able to innovate effectively.

The concern over keeping up with technology is real. AI technology, in particular, is already proving to be effective in driving certain business outcomes such as providing better content recognition and recommendations, increasing sales and increasing customer retention.

B2B marketers have expressed high expectations for AI. Previous research from EverString showed that six in 10 (59%) believe it will help identify prospective customers, while 1 in 2 expect AI to improve marketing effectiveness in driving revenue.

CEOs are also recognizing the significance of AI. Globally, 3 in 5 (63%) of CEOs agreed or strongly agreed that AI will have a larger impact than the internet.

However, there is some discrepancy with CEOs in different regions with some regions viewing AI’s impact more strongly than others. In the Middle East, for example, more than three-quarters (78%) of CEOs agreed that AI will be more impactful than the internet. However, in North America, only 44% agreed with this statement.

But while CEOs recognize AI’s impact, they’ve lagged somewhat in introducing AI initiatives into their organizations: some 58% of organizations have not introduced AI initiatives. While more than one-third (35%) of those who have not introduced them plan on doing so within the next three years, almost one-quarter (23%) report not having any plans to pursue AI initiatives at this time.

In North America, the outlook is somewhat brighter. While only 45% of organizations have introduced AI initiatives another 37% do plan on doing so within the next three years.

Some other key findings from the report are below:

  • The number of CEOs with a pessimistic outlook for growth has shot up considerably. While just 5% believed 2018 would see a decline in economic conditions, this year the figure is 29%.
  • Some 28% of CEOs are ‘extremely concerned’ with the speed of technological change, while 34% cite the availability of key skills as another similar threat.
  • The US is less likely in 2019 to feature in one of the top three territories for growth for CEOs based overseas. Just over one-quarter (27%) marked the US as one of their top markets, down from 46% in 2018.

Read more from the study here.

About the Data: PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey: CEOs’ curbed confidence spells caution is compiled from interviews with 1,378 CEO in 91 territories across a range of industries.

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