This is what keeps South Africa’s CEOs up at night

 ·4 Nov 2023

Despite a poorly performing economy and significant political uncertainty, South African CEOs see technology as a major threat.

According to the KMPG 2023 Southern Africa CEO outlook, as is the case with global CEOs who see political instability as the biggest threat to the growth of their companies, Southern African CEOs see policy uncertainty as their most significant risk.

On the other hand, South African CROs see emerging or disruptive technology risk as their biggest threat.

“Technology remains an area of significant opportunity and risk. Material risks identified by CEOs include the impact of generative AI, geopolitics and cybersecurity,” Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busisiwe Mavuso said.

“The complexity of the ethical terrain which generative AI is exposing has made many CEOs take more of a wait-and-see approach than some anticipated in the throes of the initial excitement around their potential.

“AIs continue to fuel both sides in the cybersecurity war, and the range of sectors and processes in which they will be deployed will continue to grow.”

Further investment

Although Southern Africa continues to face several challenges, including high levels of inflation, 71% of Southern Africa’s CEOs said that they are making GenAI a top investment priority, making it one of the top priorities for CEOS.

“Noting that GenAI is a growing key top investment for companies globally, 28% of Southern Africa’s CEOs believe that a key benefit of implementing this technology is the market growth opportunity it offers,” KPMG said.

“22% see GenAI as a tool to increase efficiencies and productivity within their organisation through automated processes and operations.”

Although there is a willingness to adopt GenAI into the workplace, CEOs did highlight challenges and concerns.

33% of Southern Africa’s CEOs said the most significant challenge will be securing the technical capability and skills required for their employees to get the most out of GenAI in their everyday work.

55% of Southern Africa’s CEOs also said that they worry that by implementing AI, some jobs and tasks may become redundant in their company.

Read: Trillions in debt – and nothing to show for it

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