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Emerging Tech

IBM: Egyptian & South African CEOs bank on advanced AI success

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CEOs in Egypt and South Africa anticipate considerable value from advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics in coming years.

That's according to the new study: CEO decision-making in the age of AI, from IBM's Institute for Business Value (IBV), which found that 50% of African CEOs surveyed believe generative AI, deep learning and machine learning will deliver the results they need over the next three years.

The annual global study interviewed 3,000 CEOs from over 30 countries as part of the 28th edition of the IBM C-Suite Study series. In Africa, the survey was conducted with CEOs in South Africa and Egypt with 60 CEOs interviewed in each country across 24 industries.

Around 58% of African CEOs surveyed said they expect cloud computing to deliver the most results, while 51% bank on automation.

However, around 60% of CEOs in Africa reported a lack of clear standards in one or more strategic focus areas and are delaying investments as a result.

"The Fourth Industrial Revolution has presented Africa with an opportunity to leapfrog various stages of economic development. Consequently, African organizations are leveraging generative AI and emerging innovation models to accelerate innovation, enhance customer experiences, productivity and profitability, and environmental sustainability, to name a few," said Julia Carvalho, GM of IBM Africa Growth Markets.

"However, it's critical that CEOs in Africa establish and implement clear and consistent standards as it concerns the utilization of AI across all areas of strategic focus, as it will determine the level of investment and, ultimately, an organization's success in a rapidly advancing digital economy," she said.

African CEOs recognize the broad benefits of advanced technologies, with half identifying generative AI, deep learning and machine learning as critical to success.   (Source: on Freepik)
African CEOs recognize the broad benefits of advanced technologies, with half identifying generative AI, deep learning and machine learning as critical to success.
(Source: on Freepik)

When it came specifically to South African and Egyptian leaders interviewed, the report found that 53% of them identified technology factors as the force that could most significantly impact their respective AI adoption journeys.

Additionally, regional CEOs cited market factors (51%), regulatory factors (49%) and workforce and skills (33%) as leading external factors that are having the most significant impact on their organizations.

Data remains top of mind

On a global scale, around 57% of CEOs surveyed cite concerns about data security, and 48% worry about bias or data accuracy, barriers they indicate could slow their adoption of generative AI.

African CEOs face several data challenges, with nearly half of the respondents citing unclear data calculation and reporting across suppliers and partners (48%) and within their organizations (47%) as the most critical risks or barriers.

Want to know more about technologies like AI, ML, IoT and smart cities? Check out our dedicated Emerging Tech content channel here on Connecting Africa.

CEOs in Africa also said sustainability is their top challenge amid their respective AI journeys over the next three years, followed by cybersecurity and talent recruiting/retention.

However, CEOs are wary about taking a public stand on geopolitical and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues impacting customers and employees.

While 73% of CEOs believed they should take a stand, 39% said they regret a public stand they have taken in the past three years.

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*Top image source: Freepik.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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