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Transformation Lags Optimism: Polish CEOs Wary Despite Booming AI Adoption Globally

BUSINESSTransformation Lags Optimism: Polish CEOs Wary Despite Booming AI Adoption Globally
  • 45% (55% in Poland) doubt that their company’s current development path will ensure its profitability for the next decade – indicating necessary transformations.
  • CEOs expect more global economic growth than a year ago. In Poland, there are significantly more optimists than the world average – 61% of respondents expect global GDP growth compared to 38% overall.
  • Polish CEOs differ from global counterparts in that they are still more afraid of inflation (32% versus 24%), macroeconomic uncertainty (35% vs 24%) and geopolitical conflicts (26% vs 18%). However, they are more optimistic in the area of cyber risks (12% vs 21%) and health-related risks (0% vs 11%).
  • A whopping 60% of company CEOs worldwide see great opportunities in acquisitions and such a percentage plans such decisions in the next three years (in Poland, 43% of CEOs talk about such plans).
  • About two-thirds of CEOs in Poland and around the world make decisions to improve energy efficiency. However, too many of them report that they have no plans for a number of other climate actions – including those with important social implications.
  • Company leaders around the world expect many positive short-term business effects from `GenAI, including increased revenue and efficiency.
  • High positive expectations worldwide regarding GenAI are still not reaching Polish CEOs to the same extent. This is evidenced by estimates of how, in the opinion of global CEOs, AI tools will impact their companies in three years. About 70% of them believe that GenAI will increase the intensity of competitive battles in their industries and change the way companies build and deliver value.

From the 27th global survey of corporate chiefs, it appears that CEOs are making significant changes in business models, but they are even more worried about their long-term profitability. Although 4702 CEOs who participated in this year’s survey are more optimistic about global economic growth than last year, 45% of them still have doubts about whether their companies will survive on the current path within the next 10 years (In Poland, this percentage is even higher and amounts to as much as 55%). To clarify the nature of the challenges and new opportunities concerning corporate development in the era of continuous transformation, we have arranged this year’s report around three themes – factors affecting business, planned actions, and upcoming change.

“Worldwide, the view is that technology is becoming a key factor influencing the value of a company. In Poland, however, we are still more distant than in mature markets when it comes to necessary investments related to this. In the opinions of CEOs, technology is becoming the number one factor that brings and supports building long-term value. As many as 56% of CEOs around the world believe that the technology leap will have the most significant impact on their companies in the next three years, compared to “only”  39% in our country. CEOs in Poland are aware that digital transformation and innovation are now necessary to maintain competitiveness and respond to changing market needs, but the impact associated with government regulations and new customer preferences still weighs more heavily – at least perceptibly.”- says Michał Mastalerz, CEO of PwC Poland.

Polish CEOs are more cautious and as many as 55% of them fear the future of their company. Without a thorough transformation of their company – they believe that it will not be possible to maintain its profitability even in less than 10 years.

“Technological changes, climate challenges and other global megatrends are forcing CEOs to transform the companies they manage. The best focus not only on their business model but also on implementing technology-supported changes. Most survey respondents of the CEO Survey have already initiated a transformation process. Polish CEOs are more daring in their declarations than their counterparts worldwide, but in practice, we know that they still have a higher aversion to risk. Transformation cannot be achieved without effectively designed investments, including in technology and a well-coordinated team of people for whom the strategic goals of the organization are clear.” – adds Mariusz Dziurdzia, PwC Poland Partner, Member of the Management Board for Clients and Market.

The role of company leaders is increasing in ensuring responsible use of artificial intelligence by their organizations. Considering the pace of innovation and inevitable delays in creating new standards and regulations, a significant part of the responsibility for managing GenAI falls on the companies themselves and not on regulatory bodies. CEOs of the companies surveyed in our study largely perceive generative artificial intelligence as a catalyst for change, which will affect efficiency, innovation, and transformational changes. Nearly three-quarters (70%) believe that in the next three years it will significantly change the way their company creates, delivers, and acquires value. They are also optimists about short-term effects.

“GenAI will permanently affect the transformation of business models, redefine work processes and cause a profound transformation of industries. That’s the overriding message of technology enthusiasts. So how should CEOs find their way around all this, in this enthusiasm around AI? How to reconcile the threats against the desire for quick action and following the change? Certainly, you need to think broadly, not only about GenAI itself but also about the entire area of AI and the transformation it brings with it. Key employees should be included in the process, look for practical applications and experiment a lot. This will help introduce continuous innovation, as new tools and technologies will appear constantly. Clearly, our CEOs need specifics – but it’s worth starting by looking for use-cases in your own backyard and not waiting for a wave of applications from more mature markets. Approach change boldly.”- says Kuba Borowiec, PwC Poland Partner, Leader of Advisory Services in the field of Advanced Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Software Development and Growth.

Although CEOs increasingly recognize transformational benefits resulting from generative artificial intelligence, the vast majority say it will require upskilling employees (69%). They also expressed concern about rising cyber security risk (64%), misinformation (52%), legal liability and reputational risk (46%), and bias against specific customer or employee groups (34%) in their companies.

“In the initial phase of implementing generative artificial intelligence, most companies still cannot define what they want to achieve. Despite the enthusiasm, generative artificial intelligence is just one type of AI and has not yet reached its potential. Leading companies are aligning their generative AI strategy with existing digital strategies, upskilling employees and encouraging experimentation in their organizations, focusing on identifying use-cases that can be scaled. Additionally, maintaining cyber security principles along with approaching this technology responsibly – these are our additional recommendations for company leaders along the Vistula River.” – says Michał Targiel, PwC Poland Partner, Leader of Advisory Services in the field of Business Process Automation and the Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence.

About the survey

PwC surveyed 4,702 CEOs worldwide including 31 in Poland and 111 in Central and Eastern Europe in October and November 2023. Global and regional data in this report are weighted proportionally to the nominal GDP of the country or region to ensure the representativeness of CEOs’ opinions.

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