The 2024 C(AI)O Project Report

High Impact, Big Reward: Meet the GenAI-Focused CFO

May 2024

Six in 10 CFOs say GenAI is the greatest innovation of our time — and the promise of this technology energizes CFOs everywhere. This analysis, the first in PYMNTS Intelligence’s new 2024 C(AI)O Project, examines the enterprise landscape of GenAI applications, including the positive impacts and challenges these firms face in integrating GenAI. Our analysis spans the range of low-risk, low-impact GenAI through strategic, high-impact GenAI. This monthly project monitors GenAI integration trends and sentiment across companies with at least $1 billion in revenues in the United States.

Just 30% of enterprises fully use strategic, high-impact GenAI applications.
39% of CFOs at companies with the highest total impact of GenAI applications report very positive ROI.
Firms using GenAI less strategically are 50% more likely than the average company to say a lack of executive support hinders their success.


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    One of generative artificial intelligence’s most appealing aspects is its seemingly limitless uses, ranging from the most routine to the most complex and strategic. Routine GenAI use may help firms complete individual tasks or summarize information. Complex applications of GenAI can do more without human help, such as monitoring processes and creating content.

    Enterprise CFOs have been measuring the impact of implementing GenAI. PYMNTS Intelligence’s data finds that firms using GenAI in the most strategic and impactful ways reaped the benefits. These firms were most likely to report a positive return on investment. Integrating GenAI leads to positive internal efficiencies and innovation outcomes.

    Still, integrating GenAI has its challenges. Of all the CFOs in the survey, just less than one-third said the faced a lack of executive support. Nearly half of CFOs at companies using low-impact applications said the same.

    57%

    OF CFOs AT COMPANIES USING LOW-IMPACT APPLICATIONS SAID INTEGRATING GenAI INTO EXISTING WORKFLOWS WAS A CHALLENGE.

    These are just some findings in the first edition of “The 2024 C(AI)O Project.” This PYMNTS Intelligence series offers a monthly recap of the players and innovators using GenAI to revolutionize how they manage key parts of business. The project will benchmark GenAI’s various uses and impacts on operations and business performance over time. The study will rotate between thoughts of CFOs, chief operating officers (COOs) and chief marketing officers (CMOs) of firms with more than $1 billion in revenue.

    This edition looks at the landscape of GenAI applications and the impacts and challenges CFOs face during integration at U.S. firms. It draws on results from a survey of 60 CFOs held from March 5 to March 15.



    Our Framework

    From research to insights

    The 2024 C(AI)O Project studies GenAI in depth, focusing on how enterprises use the technology to accomplish 13 distinct tasks. Each task is classified based on how routine, complex, risky and impactful it is to the business. Based on those classifications, PYMNTS Intelligence developed a proprietary weighting scheme assigning firms a total score based on how impactful the applications are for the company.

    These firms are grouped into low-impact, medium-impact or high-impact personas for our analysis. Firms with just a few routine applications would fall in the low-impact firm persona. These firms are most likely to have applications that help an individual with a specific task, are less risky and are limited to summarizing information. Examples are literature reviews, drafting emails or helping to access information from a catalog.

    On the other hand, a firm with multiple highly strategic applications would be in the high-impact persona. These firms use more than one complex multifunction GenAI application to monitor multiple processes, make assessments and generate new content. These applications also come with risks since they can directly impact business outcomes. Examples are operating an autonomous cybersecurity system, monitoring production processes in real time or developing innovative product designs.

    GenAI personas

    GenAI IMPACT PERSONAS SUMMARIZED

    High-impact firms: Multiple, highly complex, strategic GenAI applications
    Medium-impact firms: At least some medium complexity GenAI applications
    Low-impact firms: Mostly simple, routine GenAI applications

    The GenAI Opportunity

    Six in 10 companies believe GenAI is the most significant technological innovation of our time. All CFO respondents use it — but most don’t take full advantage.

    If there is one thing that CFOs agree on, it is GenAI’s positive impact on business. All surveyed enterprises — companies with at least $1 billion in revenue — reported using the technology. Additionally, 63% of CFOs agreed that GenAI is the most significant innovation of our time.

    However, the way these companies use GenAI varies. Most companies use GenAI for routine and less risky tasks, such as summarizing information or accessing a catalog. On average, all surveyed companies reported that they use the technology for at least three routine or medium complexity tasks.

    PYMNTS Intelligence found that just 30% of surveyed enterprises are taking full advantage of using multiple strategic GenAI applications. These are applications capable of making a high impact: monitoring multiple processes, making assessments based on diverse inputs or creating new content. Curiously, the firms that used more high-impact GenAI applications did not necessarily invest more. Firms with a high total impact score — meaning they used more strategic and complex GenAI applications — invested 25% less on the technology than those using less strategic applications that landed in the middle in terms of impact.

    Strategic GenAI’s Positive ROI

    Firms using strategic and impactful GenAI applications are three times more likely to report very positive ROI than those only using low-impact, routine GenAI applications.

    While using more GenAI applications aligns with positive ROI, an aspect of this trend worth noting is that firms using more applications also use them strategically. Surveyed enterprises use an average of three routine applications, and firms reporting positive ROI use an average of 5.6. The data revealed that 50% of firms using more than five applications reported a very positive ROI. However, among surveyed firms that use fewer than five applications, just 6.3% of firms have very positive ROI.

    The Role Executives Play

    Firms using GenAI less strategically are 50% more likely than the average company to say lack of executive support hinders success.

    Successful integration of GenAI applications at any level requires organizational support. Of all CFOs surveyed, 32% said they faced a lack of executive support. Forty-eight percent of CFOs at companies using low-impact applications said they also lacked executive support.

    Championing GenAI from the top can be crucial. Integrating GenAI applications into existing workflows is a challenge for companies using low-impact applications, as 57% cited this as a drawback.

    Companies with high-impact GenAI applications, in turn, have their own issues to contend with. The complexity of the applications used in these companies allows more concerns. These include data security concerns, cited by 56% of enterprises using high-impact applications, and costs related to use, cited by 61%.

    CFOs from medium-impact firms, which use slightly less complex GenAI applications than high-impact firms, have their own of challenges. These CFOs reported that their efforts to integrate GenAI applications are challenging due to tools that are difficult to use (52%), integration complexity (48%) and confusion about what tools they should use (43%).

    Skilled Workers Still Needed

    Six in 10 CFOs say GenAI has already reduced the need for low-skilled workers, but demand for skilled workers is up, and firms using GenAI strategically are 26% more likely to save money on resources.

    One main reason for the rush to use GenAI in workflows is the outsized benefits it can provide. Eight in 10 CFOs from high-impact enterprises said using GenAI has shown positive outcomes for internal efficiencies and innovation. Among the positive outcomes reported by CFOs, resource allocation, new product innovation and the ability to adapt to changing markets emerged as key benefits. GenAI is also fueling business expansion and helping CFOs make decisions faster.

    Whether GenAI threatens human jobs has been a hot-button issue. Data shows that although executives have already seen the need for low-skilled workers lessen, that trend has not carried over to the more analytically skilled workforce.

    The data suggests that firms using medium-impact applications need more analytically skilled workers to manage the newly acquired tools. Companies using high-impact, strategic GenAI may be able to function without as marked of an increase in an analytically skilled workforce due to increased automation capacity in more strategic applications.

    Conclusion

    Enterprise CFOs are keen on using GenAI applications. However, not all GenAI should be treated the same. It can range from low-impact applications for everyday tasks such as drafting an email or summary to the more complex, strategic applications of monitoring cybersecurity systems in real time. The benefits of the most strategic GenAI integrations outweigh the challenges many CFOs face. Eight in 10 of the most strategic impact groups reported positive outcomes with efficiencies and innovation. Strategic uses of this technology align with higher ROI, and businesses are paying attention, as 47% of CFOs are ready to increase their investments in GenAI in the coming year.

    Methodology

    The Impact of Implementing GenAI — and How to Maximize ROI,” a PYMNTS Intelligence report, is based on an analysis of 60 responses from CFOs from companies earning at least $1 billion in revenue in the U.S. The survey was held from March 5 to March 15. It looked at how enterprises use these tools, what issues they experience, what the impact is on their bottom lines and how executives see its role in the future of work.

    For the analytical framework, PYMNTS Intelligence considered 13 different tasks done by GenAI. Each task is classified based on how routine, complex, risky and impactful it is to the business. Based on this system, we developed a proprietary weighting scheme assigning firms a total score to show how impactful the applications are. A firm with just a few routine applications would fall into the low-impact group. Conversely, a firm with multiple highly strategic applications would be considered high-impact. This framework considers how many people are involved in the task, how many inputs are considered and to what extent GenAI helps one person complete a task rather than an entire process.

    About

    PYMNTS INTELLIGENCE

    PYMNTS Intelligence is a leading global data and analytics platform that uses proprietary data and methods to provide actionable insights on what’s now and what’s next in payments, commerce and the digital economy. Its team of data scientists include leading economists, econometricians, survey experts, financial analysts and marketing scientists with deep experience in the application of data to the issues that define the future of the digital transformation of the global economy. This multi-lingual team has conducted original data collection and analysis in more than three dozen global markets for some of the world’s leading publicly traded and privately held firms.

    The PYMNTS Intelligence team that produced this report:
    SVP and Head of Analytics: Scott Murray
    SVP, Data Products and Senior Analyst: Yvonni Markaki, PhD
    Senior Writer: Anna Sofia Martin


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