European business leaders must embrace the winds of change

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Generative AI’s promise is powered by putting people at the heart of reinvention, and there is an urgent need for businesses and leaders alike to better understand its potential, Jean-Marc Ollagnier writes.


One of the topics that has been top of mind for political and business leaders at Davos this week is the need to navigate accelerating change in an increasingly complex and volatile macroeconomic environment.

Businesses have been facing increased issues relating to everything from security and sustainability to generative AI, according to our new Pulse of Change Index, the rate of change affecting businesses has risen by 33% in the past year alone and is expected to increase to an even greater extent in 2024.

Even though the landscape has been challenging, however, it also presents businesses with a unique opportunity. 

Leaders shouldn’t rely on business resilience — future success requires reinvention now. Businesses must focus on driving growth and innovating to gain market share and stay competitive.

Drivers of change

The biggest question at the moment that we get from our clients is exactly where to focus their efforts. But first, they need to understand what’s driving change.

In recent years, European companies have rapidly transformed in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainties, supply chain disruption, the energy crisis, and a tight labour market. 

Now a new wave of rapid technological innovation threatens to redraw the competitive landscape.

Generative AI in particular is quickly emerging as the key catalyst of business reinvention, and it will affect every part of every company and transform the competitive landscape across all industries.

So, how can European businesses close the gap with global leaders by scaling Generative AI beyond isolated workstreams to the entire value chain?

Harnessing technology will be key to reinvention

The companies that will succeed in this environment are those that will focus on reinventing every part of their business using technology and data, including harnessing the power of generative AI, and ensuring their people are at the centre of their transformations.

One factor slowing its adoption is how to implement it responsibly. Our survey found that 72% of business leaders are now approaching investments with more caution because of societal and policy concerns about the responsible use of AI, this is particularly true in Europe.

Business leaders need to achieve a new level of understanding about technology and the power of data to reinvent their organisations not just quickly, but also responsibly.

To do this, leaders must build responsibility into their organisations’ AI systems, ensuring algorithms — and underlying data — are as unbiased and representative as possible. 

Unlocking the benefits of AI requires trust, and to earn this trust, people have to believe that AI will respect the individual and be safe and they have to believe that AI will work, that it’s fair and secure.

Disruption turned into growth

Generative AI’s promise is powered by putting people at the heart of reinvention. 

Businesses have the chance to build a strategy that maximises human potential and closes the gap between people and technology. Investing and developing a meaningful skills and training strategy will be crucial for pivoting the workforce for the future. 

There is an urgent need also for leaders to better understand the potential of generative AI.

By understanding where and how change is affecting their organisations, business leaders can more readily embrace the continuous reinvention that is needed to stay ahead of disruption and strengthen their resilience — and gain valuable insights that can help them turn that disruption into an opportunity for growth. 


Jean-Marc Ollagnier is CEO of Accenture for Europe Middle East and Africa.

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2024-01-19 15:12:21

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