A new IBM study reveals that top executives across Africa are turning to groundbreaking technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing to accelerate advancement and give their organisations a competitive edge. But fully unlocking the promise of these tools requires establishing standards to guide strategy and investment.
Of the African chief executives surveyed for IBM’s 2022 Global CEO Study, 50% believe innovative technologies such as generative AI, machine learning, and deep learning will deliver tangible results over the next three years. Cloud computing topped the list at 58%, while 51% cited automation as the most impactful.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution has presented Africa with an opportunity to leapfrog various stages of economic development,” explained IBM executive Julia Carvalho. “Consequently, African organisations are leveraging AI and emerging innovation models to accelerate innovation, enhance customer experiences, productivity and profitability, and environmental sustainability.”
However, approximately 60% of regional CEOs reported a lack of clear AI standards delaying targeted investments. Establishing consistent frameworks to guide adoption will be key to maximising value and outcomes in an increasingly digital economy.
Across Africa, CEOs recognise advanced technologies’ expansive potential to drive strategic goals, with half identifying cutting-edge AI capabilities as critical to their success. The study found over half of South African and Egyptian leaders view technology factors as highly influential to their AI implementation roadmaps.
Globally, data security and algorithmic bias topped CEOs’ list of concerns potentially slowing AI adoption. In Africa, ambiguity around data calculation, reporting, and sharing between partners and within organisations posed the greatest perceived risk.
While leveraging AI and analytics presents challenges, African executives overall express confidence these emerging tools can empower sustainability, efficiency, and customer-centricity when thoughtfully implemented. Nations across the continent have opportunities to lead in next-generation innovations that boost prosperity. But establishing standards and addressing data gaps will be key to realising the full promise