73% Of Business Leaders Are Not Ready For AI

A recent report titled ‘Leadership in the Age of AI’, jointly released by global consultancy Kearney and Egon Zehnder, a leadership advisory firm, offers interesting insights into how business leaders view AI transformation.

The findings show a significant gap in readiness, with only 20% of business leaders feeling that their organisations are equipped to handle the AI revolution.

Despite this, an overwhelming majority of 85% view AI as a significant opportunity for their businesses.


The Challenge Of Preparing For AI


The report indicates that while a majority of leaders (70%) anticipate that AI will cause disruption in the next five years, only one in five believe they are ready for these changes.

This lack of preparedness is attributed to constraints in time, resources, and expertise, as highlighted by 73% of survey respondents.

Additionally, a significant 51% perceive a knowledge gap in understanding AI among leadership as a major hurdle. However, in organisations where leaders are well-informed about AI and its potential, 89% feel confident about their preparedness for the coming changes.


Outlook And Preparations


Despite the challenges, business leaders maintain a positive outlook on AI, with 85% viewing it as an opportunity for their organisations and over 90% perceiving it as beneficial for their personal roles. In light of this, leaders are taking proactive steps to harness AI’s potential:

  • Approximately half (49%) are focusing on upgrading their infrastructure to support AI integration.
  • Close to 44% are forming external partnerships to leverage external expertise and resources.
  • 39% are actively recruiting expert talent to build in-house AI capabilities.

This planning and investment indicates an effort among business leaders to capitalise on AI’s transformative potential.


Mirko Warschun, partner and member of European leadership team at Kearney: 

“Interestingly, leaders believe that AI is going to disrupt their organisation as a whole much more than their own day-to-day roles. Leaders can use their position to help their teams embrace the change that AI brings, and make sure their organisations are benefiting from it, rather than struggling to deal with it. Strong leadership will be vital to achieve this, as today’s report makes very clear.”

Alex Liu, managing partner and chairman at Kearney:

“Given the widespread recognition that AI is going to be a disruptive force for most businesses, it is ­­surprising that business leaders still feel that their organisations are unprepared for the changes to come.

“The report has shown that the prevailing sentiment among leaders when it comes to AI is optimism. The challenge now lies in translating this optimism into tangible action, ensuring both leaders and their teams are ready to overcome the challenges and embrace the opportunities that AI provides.”

Burcu Bicakci, partner at Egon Zehnder who leads T&C and AI in Southeast Asia, comments: “Organisations are likely to change drastically with new AI-enabled technologies—and soon. The report underscores the critical role of leadership in comprehending the impact of AI on their business and steering their organisation accordingly. Although the pace of AI adoption has accelerated, it is never too late for leaders to devise a clear AI strategy that can guide their organisation through this transformative phase and keep them ahead of the curve.”