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Canadian CEOs Embrace AI, Driven by Productivity Gains: Survey



Canadian CEOs Embrace AI, Driven by Productivity Gains: Survey

Canadian business leaders are transitioning from experimentation to integration

Canadian CEOs are increasingly optimistic about the benefits of AI, viewing it as a key driver for productivity and competitive advantage. According to a report from IBM, nearly two in three (64%) of Canadian CEOs believe that having the most advanced generative AI (GenAI) capabilities is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge, surpassing the global average of 59%.

These leaders have already witnessed significant productivity improvements through the use of GenAI and are prepared to take calculated risks to stay ahead. An impressive 62% of CEOs acknowledge that the productivity gains from automation justify taking on more risk, with 72% willing to outpace their competitors in embracing these advancements.

“We are at a tipping point with generative AI as Canadian business leaders transition from experimentation to integration that delivers real business impact,” said Craig Eaket, Managing Partner of IBM Consulting Canada. “Despite the challenges inherent in transformational change, there is widespread recognition of AI’s extraordinary potential to boost productivity and create business value.”

The push for AI adoption in Canada is critical to avoid falling behind on a global scale, warns PwC. Currently, nearly half (47%) of CEOs are piloting and experimenting with GenAI, while 26% are leveraging it to drive efficiency and cost savings. Although only 3% report using GenAI for growth and expansion, this figure is expected to rise significantly in the coming years. By 2025, 18% of CEOs predict that GenAI will drive growth and expansion, with this number soaring to 49% in 2026 and 67% by 2029.

According to a joint report from Microsoft and LinkedIn, three in four employees worldwide are now utilizing GenAI. This widespread adoption highlights the growing need for businesses to address the technology skills gap. IBM’s survey of over 2,500 CEOs across more than 30 countries and 26 industries, conducted from December 2023 through April 2024, reveals that more than half of companies are hiring for generative AI-related roles that didn’t exist last year. However, many are struggling to fill these key positions, with CEOs estimating that 35% of their workforce will require retraining and reskilling over the next three years—up from just 6% in 2021.

Despite these challenges, nearly two-thirds of CEOs believe their teams possess the skills and knowledge to effectively incorporate generative AI. Furthermore, 67% are confident that their recruiting and retention efforts will secure the expertise needed to achieve their business objectives, even amidst a talent shortage.

Addressing the technology skills gap is crucial for maximizing the benefits of GenAI. According to Pluralsight, employers must “demystify GenAI for all employees” by making its principles, potential applications, and ethical considerations accessible to everyone. This inclusive approach to upskilling and cross-skilling ensures that GenAI is viewed as a transformative technology with advantages across all workplace roles.

Emphasizing hands-on experience, encouraging experimentation, and fostering a culture of continuous learning are key to integrating GenAI into everyday operations and driving collective innovation and productivity. As the “honeymoon phase” of GenAI development progresses, the urgent message to employers is clear: train your workforce now to be agile adopters of technology or risk being left behind in the “new age of AI.”

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