Matt McDonald isn’t worried about AI taking away jobs. But he cautions that CEOs need to understand the opportunities it provides and the new skills and ways of doing business that it requires. The president of corporate insights and strategy firm Penta Group sees AI as fundamentally different from other recently hyped technologies such as blockchain.
“[AI] is more accessible to everybody. And they can see it in its opportunities and uses in their work in their personal lives,” he says, “in ways that some of those other technologies are more complex and require a little more thinking around the corner of the opportunities they present for a given organization.”
At Penta, one big opportunity is in summarizing and analyzing media coverage that’s of use to the company’s clients. The company has been using earlier forms of AI for this process for years, he says. But the new large language model generative AI (as in ChatGPT) provides new opportunities.
AI not only frees up, but requires, leaders to develop new competencies now that machines can handle more of the information-analysis that used to take so much effort, says McDonald, in an interview with Worth editor in chief Dan Costa at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“That’s going to be replaced by the increasing need for the EQ [emotional quotient or intelligence] side of the job,” he says, “for vision, storytelling, alignment of people—especially during a period of such incredible change, not only from a technology perspective, but from a society perspective.”