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Bringing AI to the full C-suite

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Digital transformation topped the corporate agenda in 2022. Executives in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare were among those increasingly demanding human-led, tech-enabled solutions that further modernized and made use of their data in the cloud. These transformation initiatives engaged everyone in the C-suite, including CEOs, who saw a need for analytics, AI and cloud-native skills to meet business demands. 

For a while, our clients have wrestled with how to manage and drive continuity across their data and cloud strategies. Now, leaders expect a lot more value from data implementations and services. The conversation has shifted to focus on the insights driven by data.

That is why it is no surprise that 92% of leaders report being “all-in” on cloud. Cloud is ​​an enabler for broader business transformation. It creates more accessible data, which in turn makes it possible to derive insights and analytics to support rapid decision-making. 

Everything, from the pandemic and geopolitical issues to the current economic downturn, are among the factors that underscore the need for real-time, actionable data. 

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Data-driven decision-making

AI is set to be one of the main resources to help businesses act on and mine this data. I anticipate that it will provide new disruption and competitive advantage in today’s fast-changing economy. In fact, AI is set to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2023. Healthcare and financial services are among the industries that will benefit the most from it. 

To stay ahead of the curve, we acquired data-focused consulting firm Sagence. They specialize in translating an organization’s strategy into data and analytical action, harnessing the competitive advantage that data and its related insights can bring. This is the fourth in a series of acquisitions we have made over the past 18 months to meet clients where they are and to stay ahead of our rapidly changing digital environment. We have seen more interest and adoption in AI this year than in years past as executives look for new ways to identify and make confident, data-driven business decisions. 

The pharmaceutical industry exemplifies the trend of leveraging data assets with advanced analytics and AI techniques to accelerate the development of new drugs and therapies. During clinical trials, the essential step needed to prove safety and efficacy of new drugs also tends to be the most expensive part of the overall drug development process. By using natural language processing (NLP) techniques to harvest insights from historical protocols and clinical trial results, leading pharma companies have successfully designed trials that cut down cycle time by as much as 20%. This has helped bring new drugs to market sooner, positively impacting the lives of patients, while also driving greater profitability and exclusivity for innovative drugs.

Prioritize responsible AI

AI provides new opportunities for all types of businesses, from utilities, to financial services, to healthcare. However, with the increasing use of AI come conversations around bias, risk and privacy.

Given the widening use cases and implementation of AI, businesses should not implement the technology without a responsible AI model. Such models can help leaders mitigate AI risks and evaluate existing AI practices or create new ones to responsibly and ethically use data. Having a model in place that looks out for risks like privacy and bias can prepare businesses for future regulation (such as the upcoming AI Bill of Rights). This means businesses that proactively prioritize responsible AI will have an edge that competitors may never be able to overtake.

This year, we saw AI adoption at the C-suite level like never before. Although initially driven by the uncertainty of the pandemic, the acceleration of data-driven insights continues in anticipation of an economic downturn. I expect that businesses equipped with the tools to turn relevant insights and analytics into clear business outcomes will come out on top.

Jenny Koehler is the strategic growth & business development leader at PwC.

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