How Leadership has Changed in the Age of AI

So far, the narrative around AI has been to automate redundant tasks, detect and analyze hidden patterns in data and provide processing power far beyond human means.

According to a survey from Infosys, a majority of organizations started off using AI to automate or improve routine or inefficient processes. Of the respondents, 66% have used AI technologies primarily for business process automation, which is considered a good starting point to glean results quickly. And 90% of C-level executives reported measurable benefits from deploying AI technologies within their organization.

But now, AI is bringing about more than automation. It’s changing the way business strategies are implemented — 73% of business executives say AI has changed the way they do business.

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Shifting AI from Automation to Strategy

Sudhir Jha SVP, Head of Product Management and Strategy at Infosys, says, “AI initiatives shouldn’t simply be about automation— they should be the catalyst to rethink processes and business models. Doing so can achieve significant improvements with longer-term, strategic benefits.”

Already, 4 out of 5 C-level executives believe that their future business strategy will be informed through opportunities made available with AI.

AI is producing strategic advantages across various industries, such as:


 

  • Improved process performance
  • Productivity gains due to time spent on higher-value work
  • Improved compliance, security and risk management
  • Increased productivity
  • New or increased market share
  • Improved employee retention

 

Research from Harvard Business School states,

“AI-driven processes are vastly more scalable than traditional processes, drive massive scope increase, enabling companies to straddle industry boundaries, and enable powerful opportunities for learning—to drive ever more accurate, complex, and sophisticated predictions. Reinventing the firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditional constraints on scale, scope, and learning that have constrained business growth for hundreds of years.”

While data, analytics, and AI-driven processes have already disrupted the nature of work, organizations are changing gears from experimentation and proof of concept to implementing enterprise-wide AI to eliciting high-value strategic outcomes with the help of AI.

In fact, enterprises that have aligned their business strategy with AI are utilizing a new operating architecture, redefining how they create, capture, share and deliver value.

Leadership in the Age of AI

Missy Cummings, Director of Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, says, “The future of AI is supporting and augmenting human capabilities such that a human-AI team is stronger than either alone.”

AI is gradually becoming a core aspect of business strategy, and increased adoption is changing the way businesses executives lead, the way they recruit, train, innovate, inspire and bring to fruition business goals by applying AI and human power together.

The Infosys survey found that C-level executives agree that AI impacted their leadership by enabling operational excellence, the ability to be more agile and responsive and become more competitive in their markets.

But there are also barriers and challenges.

Leaders have to evolve quickly in the fast-paced environment created by AI while they help bring about change in the way their entire organization functions. Alain Dehaze, CEO of the Adecco Group, says, “Technological advancement is requiring a deeper focus on innately human skills – critical thinking, emotional intelligence and value judgments.”
Executives who want to make headway in the age of AI need to become change agents who can bridge the gap between old and new business and work realities.

As yet, 75% of business executives feel ill-prepared to take on that mantle. They believe that they would benefit from formal training on the implications of AI. In the U.S., 87% of C-level executives think training the leadership team on AI is a top priority.

AI is reshaping competition and changing the structure of the economy. Leaders who can help traditional companies change their operating models to drive scale, scope and learning will clearly be in much demand.

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