New global survey of senior executives also reveals 40% of UK and 46% of Swiss are concerned that the growth of AI will not be properly managed and could threaten privacy and personal freedoms

LONDON and GENEVA, November 13, 2018 – Nine in 10 UK consumer & retail industry executives feel qualified to deploy AI and technology solutions at their companies, along with 94% of Swiss and Chinese executives, while only 48% of US consumer & retail industry executives say they are prepared, according to a new survey released today by Boyden, a premier talent and leadership advisory firm.

The report, titled Boyden Senior Executive Survey: AI and the Consumer & Retail Revolution, explores the global challenges, areas of opportunity, skills necessary and the path forward for companies and senior management to compete amidst tech and AI innovations.

“Most consumer and retail companies are in the throes of a massive evolution through AI and technology,” said Cornelia Tänzler, Global Leader of Boyden’s Consumer & Retail Practice and a Managing Partner of Boyden Switzerland. “The changes include their overall strategy, how they package, track and ship goods, how they engage with customers, and how they lead and hire for the future.”

“The CEO’s right-hand man or woman used to be the CFO. The CFO remains important, but actually it’s the digital leaders that are going to drive how finance is going to support the business going forward,” added Francesca d'Arcangeli, a Managing Partner of Boyden United Kingdom. “The transformation will be intrinsic throughout the whole organization and it’s really important for boards to understand this.”

The survey includes robust data from 200 industry executives—50 UK, 50 Swiss, 50 US and 50 China-based—including CEOs, COOs, CDOs, CIOs and other senior executives. Additional key findings include:

Knowledge, Skill Sets and Robotics

“In an age of AI and tremendous transformation, a Chief Information Officer or Chief Digital Officer’s strategy, vision and creative skills to lead a company’s rapid evolvement and the ability of this executive to influence other C-level executives are critical," said Lorenz Gan, former Director of Technology Programs at Burberry and current Chief Information Officer of New Era Cap in the U.S.

“In terms of US companies’ transformation, with the exception of the big tech consumer companies, I see a lot of the delay tied up in the 90-day earnings cycle, which prohibits quite a lot of intellectual and physical investment,” explains John Straw, a London-based Senior Advisor to McKinsey and Company, Co-Founder of D/SRUPTION and co-author of iDisrupted.

AI Privacy, Safety and Economic Opportunity

“AI is a powerful tool, trend and force to be harnessed across so many disciplines. It continues to make the global pace of change faster and the need for talent to be agile even more important,” explains Anastasia Falconio, Chief People Officer, Kids II, manufacturer of Baby Einstein and Comfort & Harmony and other brands. “As with all change, it is critical we instil curiosity within the workforce on ways to engage and embrace AI vs. fear it.”



For Boyden UK
Eleanor Purdon
T: +44(0) 203 727-1606

For Boyden EMEA 
Kara Condon
+ 32 (0)2 289 0949 

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