EY: Five Generative AI Initiatives Leaders Should Pursue Now

It’s time to move beyond quick efficiency gains to a cohesive AI strategy that is actionable and provides options in a fast-changing space.

  • Generative artificial intelligence brings huge potential — but many are stymied by significant uncertainty and organizational constraints.
  • Prioritize a small number of cross-cutting initiatives to bridge gaps and move up the AI maturity curve.
  • Within each initiative, determine where to act now versus decide later – while identifying the criteria and thresholds used to trigger future activities.

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) poses a dilemma. On the one hand, its transformative potential and rapid acceleration are creating an imperative for business leaders to act — and move quickly. On the other hand, significant uncertainty and organizational constraints are slowing uptake and dissuading many from launching major initiatives.

While companies are investing in AI — 43% of CEOs have already begun, with another 45% planning to do so in the next year — many are pursuing quick efficiency gains rather than more fundamental changes to maximize AI’s growth potential. Ninety percent1 of organizations are still in the earliest stages of AI maturity — running proofs-of-concept or developing capabilities in pockets. In this environment, how do you ensure your actions today are aligned with building an AI-ready enterprise for the future? How do you chart a course amid so much uncertainty?

EY teams have developed a process for creating an actionable, focused and adaptive strategy tailored to this environment of uncertainties and constraints. This approach identifies the most impactful strategic initiatives, distinguishes near-term priorities from longer-term issues, and provides optionality in a fast-changing space.

Set goals and identify challenges

Start by setting overarching goals, aligned to your organizational values and purpose. We believe an AI strategy should be guided, at minimum, by certain core objectives. AI’s unprecedented ability to enter the most human of domains — intelligence and creativity — makes augmenting human capabilities a key strategic focus. Growing concerns about the risks raised by AI mean that building confidence in your AI systems needs to be a fundamental principle. Finally, to drive exponential value, your strategy cannot be piecemeal or siloed — it needs an end-to-end approach.

To achieve these goals, you need to identify and address your biggest gaps. Think of this in two ways. First, what is the gap between your current state and your desired future state? To measure this, you need a maturity model, such as the EY.ai Maturity Model, to benchmark your current AI implementation relative to a mature, enterprise-wide deployment of AI.

  • Download ‘If AI is a transformative force, how do we ensure it’s a force for good?’

Second, focus on the gaps — the uncertainties and organizational constraints — that are limiting your ability to quickly move up the maturity curve. Companies across sectors typically face multiple uncertainties and constraints. These include being inundated by large numbers of unprioritized use cases, while lacking an overall vision on business transformation and value creation; uncertainty about AI regulation and the risks raised by new use cases; and talent and information technology (IT) infrastructure gaps.

Companies face critical challenges in developing and implementing AI

Launch strategic AI initiatives

A chasm separates these goals and challenges. Bridging it requires prioritizing a small number of strategic initiatives that are both cross-cutting and aligned. This means addressing multiple uncertainties or constraints simultaneously while working together to achieve the core objectives listed above, further your company’s purpose and accomplish a shared vision.

Based on these criteria, as well as a series of interviews and workshops with EY AI and strategy specialists, we have identified five strategic initiatives addressing the gaps commonly faced by companies across sectors. Within each initiative, leaders should decide where to act now and what to decide later — while identifying the specific criteria and thresholds that will trigger those future activities.


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