The First CEO-Driven Technology Wave?

A photorealistic AI generated drawing of two robots interacting at a desk, perhaps playing a futuristic game.

Labor Day marks the end of summer and in 2023, the beginning of a new era.

Why? Every executive I speak to has A.I. on the agenda for their strategic planning season in Q4.

In my career, I have never seen a technology being driven from the C-Suite like this.

Historically, technology adoption (especially in AEC) has always been driven by the IT department geeking out on something new and then spending years (decades) politicking the C-Suite to “get it.”

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and review some specific examples:

  • Desktop computers: deployed in accounting and drafting departments. CEO exposure = none
  • Internet: deployed by marketing and IT departments. CEO exposure = little to modest  (primarily via email)
  • BIM: deployed by early adopter architects/engineers who wanted to reinvent the design-build process. CEO exposure = none (“talk to my BIM/VDC guy”)
  • Mobile/Cloud: deployed in a fragmented way across the org because with mobile, not everyone initially had a smartphone (nor were network effects apparent…) and with cloud, there was perceived risk and change management pain…. Initial adoption existed via field work applications (you could now capture data/images), mobile work (email apps, social), CRMs. CEO exposure = better than average
  • A.I. (ChatGPT): Deployed by nearly everyone, but especially the C-Suite. They view it as their secret weapon. Its accessibility is unprecedented (via phone or desktop), requires zero learning curve or technical ability, and its positive feedback loop is immediate. 100% of CEOs I have talked to are using it almost every day. CEO exposure = leading the charge.

To prove why this time is different, I had an AEC CEO approach me after speaking at a conference this past month. He shared that their Risk Department had taken over A.I. strategy, not because of IP/security risks, but because of the threat A.I. represents to their core business. Think about that for a second. They are involving risk because they believe that their multi-billion dollar enterprise may not exist in 5 years, which is a view that has formed after personal daily experimentation.

The early movers are actively searching for how best to fold A.I. into their firm’s client experience. It’s my view that the further your AEC A.I. strategy is from the client experience, the more likely the client will set your A.I. strategy for you. After all, it’s the same service for a 10th of the price. Which is not great for the enterprise value of your firm.

Your homework: Ask 10 clients how they think A.I. could affect your business. You may not love what you hear, but you need to hear it.

- KP

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