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Impact of artificial intelligence on roles of business leaders: Microsoft research

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impact of AI on leaders

Right leadership is the key for every business to become successful. Without it, a business will falter and fail.

Microsoft recently surveyed around 800 leaders across seven European countries and the US to learn about their plans to use artificial intelligence (AI), relationship between AI and leadership, and their thoughts on how successful leadership changes as organizations use more AI.

Following are the key takeaways from the research:

1. 93% of high-growth companies intend to invest in decision-making AI

The companies that expect relative organic growth in the double digits are the high-growth companies. Leaders at these companies feel a sense of urgency to use more AI for driving efficiencies and growth.

While 93% of them are expecting to invest in decision-making AI in next 3 years, 53% of them intend to do so in next 12 months.

On the other hand, 64% of lower-growth companies will invest in decision-making AI in 3-5 years.

“As AI helps leaders tackle operational tasks more effectively, they can better shift their focus on empowering their people. This means trusting people to approach challenges in their own way and ensuring they are equipped to be at their best. In short, leaders can more effectively shift from being managers to mobilizers,” believes Michel van der Bel, President, Microsoft EMEA.

2. Time investment of leaders will evolve

As AI becomes more widely used, the business leaders will invest more of their time in motivating and inspiring employees, identifying new market opportunities, and setting the right goals.

“Successful leaders use AI for operational tasks but also to become more effective leaders – in other words, drive growth, set the right priorities and free time for inspiring people. It is interesting to see leaders wanting to put more energy on engaging and inspiring people as AI becomes more prevalent. In this way,” believes Heike Bruch, Professor and Director of the Institute for Leadership & Human Resources Management at the University of St. Gallen.

“I actually think AI will make good leaders less busy and even more human.”

3. Leaders would like support to better prepare for AI

76% of the leaders at high-growth companies would like support to change their skill emphasis. This will help them in better preparing for the age of AI.

Suggested reading: 4 pillars of Microsoft’s #AIforALL vision for India

4. AI will positively impact leadership

66% high growth leaders said that AI will have a positive impact on leadership. 8% said that AI is already having a positive impact on their leadership.

On the other hand, 64% of leaders at lower-growth companies expect the same.

“What’s striking about the research is the difference between double-digit growth companies and those with lower growth,” says Susan Etlinger, Industry analyst with the Altimeter Group.

“Double-digit growth companies are further along in their AI deployments, but also see a greater urgency in using more AI. They are looking at a one to three-year timeframe – often really focused on the coming year. Lower growth companies are looking at more of a 5-year timeframe. What this says to me is that the more you know, the higher your sense of urgency is.”

5. Companies plan to use more AI in decision making

As per the research, 53% of high-growth companies are expecting to use more AI in the coming year in decision-making.

43% plan to use more AI in optimizing processes, whereas, 28% expect to use it more in developing new products and services.

6. Adapting to evolving market environments is biggest challenge leaders see

47% of leaders said that adapting rapidly to new and changing market environments related to AI is a key challenge.

41% reported promoting a culture for humans to thrive off AI as another key challenge, followed by developing ideas for how AI can help add value to customer solutions.

Also read: Technology decisions CEOs need to make in 2019 for embracing modern technologies faster

“Start small, but start with intention. This will help teams build trust, learn from feedback and build confidence. In a nutshell, this is what will help get your AI journey off with a strong start,” concluded Michel van der Bel.


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