A report by German analytics firm IoT Analytics, based on Q3 2023 earnings calls from over 4,000 leading US-listed firms, shows three currently trending themes in CEO discussions — artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI; AI chips; and sustainability.
The three topics are shaping future investment priorities for companies across industries. (Interestingly, these topics are also part of discussions among officials of Indian IT service providers that have a large customer base in the US.)
In Q1 of 2023, ChatGPT was the hot new (AI) topic for CEOs. In Q2, generative AI shared the stage with ChatGPT. However, in Q3, ChatGPT was overtaken by generative AI, AI strategy, AI infrastructure and AI Chips, as companies realised that ChatGPT is just one of many tools in the new AI portfolio.
However, AI is an evolving topic, and OpenAI continues to conduct research and development into ChatGPT, so there is no reason to believe that ChatGPT will completely fade out from discussions in the near term, according to the analysis by IoT Analytics.
In Q3, economic worries remained a prominent topic in boardroom discussions globally but receded quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). Supply chain worries saw the smallest drop, 2 per cent QoQ, while the topic of recession experienced the largest fadeout of 38 per cent QoQ, now appearing in 11 per cent of earnings calls, the research said.
Knud Lasse Lueth, CEO at IoT Analytics, says that as concerns of a potential recession fade, the emphasis on sustainability remains robust. AI, particularly generative AI, is emerging as the dominant theme of 2023, and is unlikely to become another passing trend like blockchain or the metaverse. CEOs must take decisive action now to be at the forefront of this technological revolution.
Philipp Wegner, Principal Analyst at IoT Analytics, adds that “the surge in discussions around AI strategy and AI chips in Q3 2023 is a clear indicator that businesses are moving beyond the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of AI to the ‘how’. CEOs are now grappling with the logistical challenges of integrating AI into their existing infrastructures, and that’s where the real transformation begins.”
On the declining themes in Q3, the report says that ChatGPT found fewer mentions in earnings reports. Last quarter, there was a transition from CEOs specifically discussing ChatGPT to discussing enterprise-wide applications of generative AI. That transition appears ongoing, as other AI topics saw significant rise in mentions.
The topic of remote work faded out the most in the discussion, amid concerns of a surge in Covid-19 infections due to a newly detected SARS-CoV-2 variant. Early studies show that antibodies from vaccinations and past infections may enable immune systems to detect and combat the variant sufficiently, which could be easing boardroom concerns over a significant surge in infections.
This decline in discussions around remote work also coincides with increasing so-called return-to-office mandates, with 90 per cent of US companies expected to require employees to work in office at least a few days a week by the end of 2023, the analysis says.
AI use cases like coding and chatbots are also starting to climb. “These use cases will likely roll out in the next 6–12 months, so we assess these (and other) topics to grow in Q4 and into 2024,” the analysis said.