Embrace or Fall Behind: Which CEO Will Make the Run?

Decoding AI - Unlocking Insights and Winning Strategies for Decision Makers

Manuela-Bianca Steinhuebel

7/13/20234 min read

Dear Decision Maker,

The clock is ticking, and the AI revolution waits for no one. In this edition of AI for Decision Makers, we dive deep into the pivotal role CEOs play in shaping the future. Discover why AI adoption and the path to CEO success are linked together.

During my career, I've noticed there are two types of winning CEOs: the ambitious one and the visionary one. They harness their strengths to bring companies to success. However, a new CEO category has emerged - one that blurs the lines between humans and technology. At the end of 2022, NetDragon appointed its first robot CEO - Ms. Tang Yu. The Chairman of NetDragon, Dejian Liu, recognized AI as the managerial technology of the future for businesses. Tang Yu's appointment symbolizes their commitment to embracing AI, with the goal of creating an open, participatory, and visible management system.

Intriguingly, under Ms. Tang Yu's leadership, NetDragon Websoft stock has outperformed the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index. But let's take a deeper dive into her performance.

Ms. Tang Yu excels in tracking the company's performance, achieving an impressive 94%. Given that most Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantitative, it's not surprising to see this result. However, the transformation for a human CEO means that in order to have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that make sense, we need to define SMART goals. It is common for many CEOs to set goals that are not "SMART," and they often even set competing goals between departments, which ultimately introduce more conflicts rather than helping the organization to perform. This is where human CEOs need to undergo a transformation.

#1 winning edge: As an advisory partner I can assist you in defining meaningful KPIs for your company and decrease the probability of conflicts. Unleashing the power of AI necessitates a robust organizational foundation.

When it comes to budgeting and forecasting, Ms. Tang Yu reached 89%, which is commendable. But let's remember that budgeting and forecasting are as good as the input from humans. One critical aspect she addressed is the clarity in the budgeting and forecasting process. Throughout my career, I've witnessed the lack of this clarity in many companies. Human CEOs still hold the edge here, but challenges arise, especially in software development. Budgeting and forecasting in this abstract and complex area become even more difficult when adopting AI.

#2 winning edge: As an advisory partner with extensive expertise as a CTO in both corporate and SME companies, I can guide you in optimizing this area.

In developing strategic objectives, Ms. Tang Yu achieved 39%, surpassing the statistics that show only 30% of companies have a strategy. Understanding the difference between strategy and strategic planning is crucial for unleashing AI-winning strategies.

#3 winning edge: Acknowledging my role as your dedicated advisory partner, allow me to help you grasp this distinction and shape your path to success.

With a strategic plans implementation rate of 38%, Ms. Tang Yu performs at a level comparable to a "normal" human CEO. Out of the limited 30% of companies that have a strategy, most CEOs face challenges in implementing their plans and reaping the intended benefits. This is where both robots and humans must improve.

#4 winning edge: As your dedicated advisory partner, let me assist you in succeeding with your strategy, laying a solid foundation before venturing into the realm of AI strategy.

Establishing a positive working culture achieved a score of only 13% under Ms. Tang Yu's leadership. The adoption of AI has made software development a part of almost any company, irrespective of industry. Whether it's healthcare, logistics, or agriculture, decisions arise on whether to have an in-house development division or work with external software suppliers. In future newsletters, I will address this topic comprehensively. Feel free to contact me if you're interested in exploring this area. Without a clear, communicated, and tracked strategy, the workforce is no longer willing to go the extra mile. With four generations working side by side, fostering a positive working culture is more challenging than ever.

#5 winning edge: As your trusted advisory collaborator, I can share my approach, the "3V strategy," which focuses on making the vision vivid, vocal, and valid.

Communication with the board achieved a score of 33% under Ms. Tang Yu's leadership, falling within the range of a human CEO. CEOs face significant challenges aligning investors, company owners, and the leadership team. It's no secret that decision-making power has been decreasing year by year, and the CEO role is no longer a safe one. The average CEO tenure has decreased rapidly, causing psychological strain and impacting performance.

#6 winning edge: As a neutral external moderator, I can help you solve acute problems, assess situations, and bring stakeholders onto the same page.

But the fundamental question remains: ambitious CEOs vs. visionary CEOs vs. robot CEOs - who will make the run?

Whether the robot CEO approach will spread widely, nobody knows. When considering Europe for example, laws and regulations do not permit a robot to lead humans. From my perspective, the human CEO remains essential, albeit with a rapidly transforming role.

But what we definitely know, is that for the first time in history, disruptive technologies have risen 2023 to become one of the top three concerns for CEOs - alongside economic downturn and geopolitical issues. This is the result of a recent survey conducted by McKinsey this year. One participant to the survey - a CEO's of a big company has encapsulated this perspective in just few words – he said: "A CEO also has to be the chief technology architect. Think of the executive team - not just the chief digital officer - as owning the technology strategy of the company. There is too much at stake."

The CEOs' transformation is inevitable, but can a "classic CEO" achieve it alone?

Given the diverse nature of industry sectors, it is common for the majority of CEOs to lack software technology and/or AI background, making it difficult to navigate this transformation alone. As advisory partner, I am dedicated to empowering executives to embrace their role as visionary chief technology architects and implement winning digital strategies. But I don't stop there - I go further, helping CEOs unleash the power of AI to gain a competitive edge.

AI is not just about implementing a source code; it revolves around maximizing its business potential across various sectors, including healthcare, logistics, banking, retail and more. Stay tuned for our next newsletter, where we will provide more insights and information on this topic.

Indeed, the future is already unfolding before us. Embracing the AI opportunities is not a choice, but a necessity to stay ahead. Don't risk to fall behind! If you aspire to become a "FUTURE CEO" and require assistance, kindly send me an email. Together, let's forge a path to success and ensure you stay ahead in this ever-evolving landscape.

Wishing you continued success,