UK executives lack confidence in own AI proficiency

The so-called AI revolution of the last year has seen hype around the technology reach new levels. Amid reports from consultancies such as McKinsey & Company – which suggested generative AI in particular could boost the global economy by $4.4 trillion each year – employers and their external advisors were quick to suggest that the global workforce needed to quickly boost its AI-related skills, or risk being left behind.

This has seen AI-anxiety become prevalent among many workers, according to a number of reports. Recent research from GetApp showed that a 79% majority of employees now believe they need to learn entirely new skills if they are to remain ‘useful to their employers’. But while bosses continue to sound warnings to their workforce to this end, a new study suggests they are not particularly confident in their own AI abilities.

executives reporting they have some guardrails on AI GENAI usage at work
Source: BCG AI Radar

A report from Boston Consulting Group surveyed 1,400 c-suite executives in 50 Markets. Many were already satisfied with the apparent progress their companies had made on the adoption of AI and GenAI capabilities. The average for European respondents satisfied with this progress was 34%, but this rose to 39% in the UK – suggesting executives there feel they are somewhat ahead of the game.

Some of this may stem from the UK leading the way when it comes to establishing rules and ‘guardrails’ for the use of AI – a technology which the allegedly fearsome potential of has been debated in detail over the last year in particular. In response to that, 66% of UK respondents said they had established a set of guidelines for the use of AI at their firm – ahead of any other geography. However, in other areas, the UK c-suite found its AI performance decidedly lacking. When it came to actually scaling AI and GenAI initiatives, only 20% of UK respondents said their firm was doing so at present. That is 3% behind the European average of firms looking to use AI on scaled use cases, and some distance behind leading nation France, on 31%.

executives who are confident in executive teams genai proficiency
Source: BCG AI Radar

So what is holding back the advance of AI in these companies? As much as corporate leaders have been keen to tell their workers how AI skills are crucial to ‘remaining useful’ to their employers, it seems that their employers themselves have not been especially proactive in this regard – at least in the UK.

When asked if they were confident in the GenAI proficiency of their fellow executives, an average of 41% in Europe said that they were – and 55% in France. But UK respondents were among the least confident in the AI knowhow of their peers – at just 33%. Looking ahead, BCG’s researchers suggested that executives need to work harder to get to grips with the technology for themselves – if they are to more successfully embed it in their business processes.

“This is the year to turn GenAI’s promise into tangible business success,” said Christoph Schweizer, BCG’s CEO. “Almost every CEO, myself included, has experienced a steep learning curve with GenAI. When technology is changing so quickly, it can be tempting to wait and see where things land. But with GenAI, the early winners are experimenting, learning, and building at scale.”

SOURCE: Consultancy.uk