Study Explores How AI Answers Business Questions Compared to CEOs

CEOs, especially ones that run major corporations, have somewhat of an obligation to face the public in times of crisis or hardship and make a statement on behalf of their organization. Whether it’s in response to issues of racial inequality, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, or even just drafting a statement about an issue that touches on something impacting the workforce, public perception is hugely important, and saying the right thing can often make or break how people view – and ultimately support – a company.

As technology advances, we’ve already begun to rely more on AI for certain tasks in many ways because of how simple the technology can make things. Smart technology, web search, and online shopping are major ways that AI has become ingrained in our daily life in recent years. But what happens when AI takes over for CEOs when it comes to answering business questions and responding to world events?

RMIT Online conducted a study to observe just that: how an AI statement on various issues compares to statements made by CEOs of major corporations. The study showed five different statements to 1,009 respondents and asked them to rate the statements based on which were the most effective and impactful. Four of the 5 were issued by real CEOs on various issues, and one was generated by AI.

Racial Inequality

One of the most interesting aspects of the study was the comparison of statements on the issue of racial inequality in America – an issue that has weighed especially heavily in the last few years and has seen numerous CEOs and even heads of state responding in support of reforms and reconciliation for countless decades of injustice and inequality.

Out of the five statements shown, which included an AI response and ones from the CEOs of General Motors, Etsy, Microsoft, and Facebook, the statement from General Motors CEO Mary Barra was rated the highest by respondents. Specifically, 35.2% of respondents felt it was the best statement in terms of how it addressed the issue, followed by Microsoft (21.2%), Etsy (17.8%), and Facebook (15%). The AI response was rated last, with 10.9% saying it was the best statement out of the five they were presented.

Comparing the General Motors statement to the AI statement, the differences were abundantly clear. “Let’s stop asking ‘why’ and start asking ‘what.’ What are we going to do?” Barra wrote in her statement.

Comparatively, the AI statement was much more matter-of-fact and didn’t present a definitive stance on the issue.

“As recent events have shown, there are many people who support the BLM movement and many people who are against it,” the AI statement read. “The business leaders who are against the BLM movement are finding themselves in a difficult position and are not sure what to do or say.”

Mental Health

Interestingly, when it came to addressing the issue of mental health in the workplace, the AI statement came out overwhelmingly on top. The statement was presented to respondents alongside ones made by CEOs of Verizon, Chevron, EY, and Financial Times, and 42.3% of respondents felt AI made the most effective statement of the group.

What made the AI statement stand out is that it not only addressed the issue of mental health in the workplace broadly, even referencing the pandemic, but it also provided a numbered list of four components that made up a mental health policy. With an issue like this – something that would naturally require a company to implement better procedures to address it – it seems that the AI’s directness and less emotional tone fared better with respondents as opposed to the more emotional statements made by the real CEOs.

The statement that came in right under the AI-generated statement was one made by Verizon CEO Guru Gowrappan, who made it a point to highlight what the company had already done to combat mental health issues resulting from the pandemic.

“Our focus is on breaking down stigmas and encouraging empathy, awareness, and understanding,” Gowrappan’s statement read. Nearly 22% of respondents felt the Verizon statement was the most effective.

Just 7.3% of respondents said they felt that the statement from Financial Times CEO John Ridding was the best. In his statement, Ridding said that the company has “really shifted the focus to the mental well-being of our employees and how we can best provide support.” His breakdown of services and changes made to their mental health policy was much more vague in comparison to the other statements, including the one generated by AI.

The Pandemic

It seems that AI won out with its statement on the COVID-19 pandemic as well, compared to statements made by the CEOs of Bombas, Amazon, Modera Wealth Management, and BP. Almost one-third of respondents said they felt the AI statement was the best of the bunch, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ statement just behind (24.6%), followed by Bernard Looney of BP (24%), Tom Orecchio of Modera (13.2%), and David Heath of Bombas (5.4%).

“The best way for business leaders to help those impacted by COVID-19 is to show empathy toward employees and their families,” the AI statement read. “Business leaders should be aware of the situation and provide the most up-to-date information to their employees to help them make decisions during this unprecedented pandemic.”

While the other statements detailed ways they’re changing their business model to adapt to the pandemic, the AI statement was solely a response to the human element of the pandemic as opposed to the business element. It was a notable difference from Bezos’ statement in particular, calling out the importance of taking care of employees rather than Bezos’ approach of detailing how Amazon changed its logistical processes.

The Future of Leadership?

The results of the RMIT Online study clearly showed that when it came to most issues, AI had the most impactful and effective statements. Perhaps issues like racial inequality require a more human and emotional reaction, as opposed to AI’s more direct and matter-of-fact tone. But when it comes to detailing a response to a mental health or global public health crisis, it’s clear that AI offered a much more detail-oriented and less hollow approach than that of the CEOs – many of whom focused more on platitudes and blanket statements of support with little detail or more emphasis on their bottom line.

If the study shows one thing, it’s that businesses may be able to rely on AI for help in certain situations where public responses are necessary. Depending on the approach and the appropriate reaction, AI can clearly be an effective tool to craft a statement that outlines things straightforwardly and boldly with the right emphasis.
The future of leadership is here - and it’s artificial intelligence [Survey]
how AI answered business questions compared to prominent CEOs

Featured photo:  ipopba / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Previous Post Next Post