Marcum-Hofstra Survey: CEOs Embrace AI for Efficiency Amid Economic Challenges

A majority of CEOs signal cautious optimism toward AI and its potential to drive efficiency and innovation, according to the latest CEO survey from New York-based IPA 100 firm Marcum (FY22 net revenue of $1.2 billion) and the Hofstra University Zarb School of Business.

The survey highlights key trends and concerns for businesses, including economic challenges, the effect of global upheaval, talent management, the growing role of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), and cybersecurity readiness.

CEO Optimism and Business Trends

The survey results indicate a shift in CEO optimism, with a decrease in those who view the business environment as “very positive.” Despite this, over 41% of CEOs remain confident, staking themselves in the “positive” range, an increase of more than 5% from September. The overall weighted average outlook remains steady.

The construction, financial services and manufacturing/distribution sectors have seen a notable increase in optimism. The most significant gains occurred in the construction sector (33% versus 19% in the previous survey).

Economic concerns remain top of mind, with the percentage of CEOs indicating it as a top-three concern increasing to 57.6% from 49.8% in the September 2023 survey. Talent availability and the cost of materials and operations continue to have significant influences, albeit with a slight ease in the level of concern compared to earlier in the year.

Artificial Intelligence

Thirty-five percent of CEOs report utilizing AI tools in their companies, up almost 10% from the February 2023 survey. CEOs prioritize AI for improved operational efficiency (64.2%), cost savings (52.5%) and effectiveness (51.8%).

Companies are using or considering AI tools for a variety of reasons, including process improvements, business planning and customer service.

“Our survey findings align with what we hear from our clients and the business community in general. Economic concerns remain the top priority and continue to impact strategic planning and operational priorities,” said Jeffrey Weiner, chairman and CEO of Marcum. “However, there is a growing recognition that artificial intelligence can help address some of these challenges by driving operational efficiencies.

The survey is developed, conducted and analyzed by Zarb School MBA students, led by Andrew Forman, associate professor of international business and marketing, and in partnership with Marcum.

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