The IBM Institute for Business Value’s C-Suite Study Series recently released a thought-provoking research piece that resonated deeply with my intellectual curiosity. It delves into six fundamental truths confronting CEOs in today’s era of AI and technological evolution. These insights not only captured my attention but also aligned with my common tact and interests, emphasizing the imperative for intentional action and measured risk-taking in the pursuit of success amidst the AI revolution.

Technical Talent

The research underscores the paramount importance of talent and skills in the age of generative AI. As AI systems evolve to not only execute tasks but also generate novel ideas and strategies independently, businesses must ensure they have the right talent equipped with the necessary skills to harness the potential of AI effectively. Despite recognizing this need, CEOs are encountering challenges in finding and retaining skilled professionals in AI-related roles, indicating a growing demand-supply gap. Additionally, CEOs anticipate the need for extensive retraining and reskilling within their workforce, emphasizing the dynamic nature of the job market in the face of technological advancements.


This segment underscored the evolving role of innovation in the context of customer preferences and the transformative potential of generative AI in driving product and service development.

Traditionally, businesses have relied on customer feedback and market research to understand consumer needs and preferences. However, this approach may have limitations, as customers themselves may not always be aware of what they will want in the future. The emergence of disruptive technologies and shifting market dynamics can rapidly alter consumer behavior and expectations.

CEOs recognize the importance of staying ahead of these changes by prioritizing product and service innovation. This shift in priorities reflects an understanding that innovation is redefined in light of generative AI, emphasizing the importance of not just meeting current consumer demands but also anticipating future needs and trends. Leveraging AI’s capabilities, companies can analyze vast amounts of data to generate innovative product ideas and validate them against real-world criteria. This approach empowers employees to focus on creative aspects of product development, positioning businesses to stay ahead of market trends and competition.


The research emphasized the critical role of ecosystem partnerships in navigating the challenges posed by the scarcity of expertise in the realm of generative AI.

In a landscape where expertise is scarce, CEOs recognize the importance of trusting the partners they collaborate with. Building trust takes time and effort, but it is essential for ensuring the success of collaborative efforts, especially in endeavors involving advanced technologies like gen AI. However, there is a warning against allowing sentimentality or personal connections to override considerations of expertise and capability when forming partnerships. While longstanding relationships can be valuable, they should not take precedence over the ability of partners to contribute effectively to achieving business objectives, particularly in the context of leveraging generative AI for competitive advantage.

Looking ahead, CEOs are adopting a strategic approach to partnership management, focusing on quality over quantity. By concentrating on fewer, high-quality partners, organizations aim to ensure closer alignment of interests and capabilities. This strategic shift may involve prioritizing partnerships with entities that possess critical expertise and capabilities relevant to the organization’s objectives in the AI space.

Further, CEOs anticipate that expertise and capabilities in generative AI will become increasingly concentrated within a small cluster of organizations. This underscores the importance of carefully selecting and nurturing partnerships with key vendors and collaborators who can provide access to the specialized knowledge and resources needed to succeed in leveraging generative AI effectively. Area Leaders are on the hook as well, as they must prioritize building trust with partners while also maintaining a focus on expertise and capability alignment to drive successful collaborative initiatives.


There is an inherent importance of diverse perspectives and constructive debate within the C-suite for effective decision-making, particularly in times of uncertainty.

The research emphasized that unanimity among executives isn’t always desirable. Each member of the C-suite brings a unique perspective and expertise to the table, and it’s through the clash of these differing viewpoints that the full spectrum of possibilities and implications can be explored. Rather than seeking an individual’s subjective truth, CEOs must strive to synthesize these diverse perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the organization.

The analogy of sparring partners was perfect to highlight the notion that vigorous debate and disagreement can lead to stronger decisions. Just as sparring strengthens fighting skills, emphatic discussions among executives can sharpen decision-making abilities by challenging assumptions, identifying blind spots, and exploring alternative strategies. My teams often heard me call this “creative abrasion”.

However, to ensure that these discussions remain productive, CEOs must establish clear ground rules for engagement. Without guidelines, debates risk degenerating into unproductive conflicts that hinder collaboration and decision-making. It’s essential to strike a balance between fostering healthy debate and maintaining a constructive atmosphere where ideas can be freely exchanged and evaluated.

The excerpt also acknowledged the potential downside of intense competition within the C-suite. While competition can drive innovation and excellence, excessive rivalry may impede collaboration and undermine organizational cohesion. CEOs must be vigilant in managing internal dynamics to prevent conflicts from escalating into counterproductive brawls, and downward negativity conveyance, that detracts from the organization’s goals.

In summary, the excerpt advocates for a culture of constructive debate and diversity of thought within the C-suite, where disagreements are seen as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles to consensus. By harnessing the collective intelligence and perspectives of its leaders, organizations can make more informed and resilient decisions, even in the face of uncertainty.

Vision and culture

This segment sheds light on the challenges organizations face in embracing generative AI technologies and fostering a culture of innovation and adaptation.

Firstly, it highlights the disruptive nature of gen AI and the opportunities it presents for transforming business models and realizing previously unimaginable possibilities. However, achieving this transformation requires more than just technological implementation; it necessitates a cultural shift and widespread acceptance within the organization.

One of the key challenges highlighted is the perception of generative AI among employees. Many may view it as something imposed upon them, rather than a tool designed to enhance their work and capabilities. This resistance to change can stem from various factors, including fear of job displacement, concerns about job security, or simply unfamiliarity with new technologies.

CEOs recognize the people problem inherent in this situation. A significant majority acknowledge the need for their organizations to leverage technologies like generative AI, even as they outpace employees’ ability to adapt. Moreover, a considerable portion of CEOs and area leaders are pushing for faster adoption of generative AI, despite encountering resistance or discomfort among some employees.

This tension between the pace of technological change and employees’ comfort levels underscores the importance of effective change management and communication strategies. Organizations must proactively address concerns, provide adequate training and support, and demonstrate the tangible benefits of generative AI to win over employee buy-in.

Additionally, fostering a culture that embraces innovation, experimentation, and continuous learning is crucial for overcoming resistance to change and ensuring successful adoption of generative AI technologies. Leaders must champion a vision that aligns with the organization’s values and encourages employees to see technology as a tool that empowers them to achieve greater success, rather than a threat to their livelihoods.

There is a complex interplay between technological advancement, organizational culture, and employee attitudes in the adoption of generative AI. Overcoming resistance to change requires a concerted effort to address concerns, provide support, and foster a culture of innovation and adaptation throughout the organization.


Successful CEOs recognize that making the right technology investments is a key differentiator between top-performing organizations and their counterparts. Top-performing CEOs are more likely to have digital infrastructures that facilitate efficient scaling and delivery of value from new investments, compared to the average, because they have the right skilled leaders informing them along the way. Removing these talents from any business can be a key information death blow.

Despite the allure of exciting new use cases and technologies, CEOs must prioritize investments that align with long-term business strategies. This may involve making difficult decisions, such as investing in improving existing technology infrastructure, which may not be as immediately appealing as pursuing new initiatives. However, neglecting this foundational work could limit an organization’s ability to achieve future growth and success.

Strategic decision-making regarding technology investments is crucial for navigating the evolving landscape of enterprise IT (which we liken to shifting tectonic plates) and driving business transformation. CEOs must prioritize investments that align with long-term business strategies, focusing on building digital infrastructures that support future growth and innovation. Agility and readiness are essential for seizing emerging opportunities and thriving in a future characterized by disruption and rapid change.

Closing thoughts

CEOs facing technological transitions must understand that taking calculated risks is essential for staying competitive. Embracing generative AI requires a leap of faith, leveraging organizational strengths while acknowledging underlying assumptions and being prepared to pivot when necessary. The traditional long-term strategy approach is obsolete in today’s uncertain environment; instead, embracing generative AI requires CEOs to take calculated risks and prioritize building adaptable capabilities. By confronting challenges head-on and fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, businesses can unlock the full potential of AI and thrive in an era defined by technological disruption.

RE: IBM Survey Research

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