AI in the C-Suite: Using Artificial Intelligence to Shape Business Strategy

Enterprise leaders are turning to AI to access real-time data, understand customer needs and streamline decision-making.

By Marcus Taylor

By Marcus Taylor April 4, 2024

Jeff Schumacher, CEO of artificial intelligence (AI) software company NAX Group, recently told the World Economic Forum: “To truly realize the promise of AI, businesses must not only adopt it but also operationalize it.” 

Schumacher and other prominent business leaders believe that using AI in strategic planning can help companies make data-driven decisions by automating critical parts of the decision-making process.

“This process involves connecting AI models with observable actions, leveraging data subsequently fed back into the system to complete the feedback loop,” Schumacher said. “The critical element lies in automating these steps, enabling rapid, self-learning iterations that propel continued improvement and innovation.”

So far, much of the hype surrounding AI has focused on large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and text-to-image applications like DALL·E. However, research demonstrates that more executives are joining Schumacher in recognizing the connection between AI and business innovation.

Consider a June 2023 study by IBM: Based on a survey of more than 3,000 CEOs, it found that 43% of executives “are using generative AI to inform their strategic decisions.” In particular, IBM found that C-level leaders are using generative AI and other forms of AI to access real-time data, generate unique insights and understand the potential consequences of business actions.

“Decision-making based on intuition, common sense and knowledge is very good and should never be lost. But the more analytic support we have, the better,” Gonzalo Gortázar

CEO of Spanish financial services company CaixaBank, told IBM.

In fields as diverse as energy, education, entertainment, construction, manufacturing and banking, just to name a few, AI has the power to change how students learn, how employees work and how consumers purchase. Just as important to the global economy, however, will be AI’s impact on the way that leaders like Gortázar lead.

AI-Driven Decision-Making is Transforming the C-Suite

As the data and AI leader at PwC, Bret Greenstein is one of the world’s foremost experts on enterprise AI. Having worked with countless executives to integrate it into virtually every aspect of business operations, he’s concluded that leaders are embracing generative AI not in spite of its disruptive potential, but rather because of it.

“What we see is a consistent focus among clients in every sector to shift their investments into GenAI as an enabler of transformation – from cost savings to increased revenue, improved speed and new streams of value,” Greenstein said.


IT Leaders Get AI Ready and Go

According to Greenstein, most C-level executives already have bought into AI. But that doesn’t mean they fully understand its potential. While most leaders grasp how AI chatbots and LLMs can increase efficiency and reduce costs, for example, few have yet to recognize the benefits of integrating AI into decision-making. As a consultant, he’s determined to help them see the light.

“First, the use of GenAI is helping senior executives get faster access to public and private data to get answers summarized from vast amounts of data,” he said. “Second, decision-makers are increasingly relying on GenAI to … ask questions about their financial and operational data without relying on traditional dashboards and reports.”

The most innovative leaders – those who are leading AI adoption – are already seeing impressive benefits. 

“The biggest benefits of this are speed and getting more focus on insights than on presenting data,” Greenstein said. “The traditional approach requires long lead times to create new views and reports. Using GenAI allows people to explore their data based on natural language questions and to change their requests in real time without being a database expert.”

AI is Revolutionizing How Enterprise Leaders Engage with Customers

In addition to providing executives with critical real-time data and insights, AI is helping senior leaders better understand customers and launch with a high degree of confidence new lines of business that satisfy their requirements.

“One personal takeaway has been the profound impact AI can have on understanding and anticipating customer needs,” said Kirill Lazarev, founder and CEO of the design agency Lazarev, whose clients include Boeing, HP, Meta and many other Fortune 100 companies. 

“A client once shared how predictive analytics allowed them to spot a rising trend in customer preferences early on. This wasn’t just data for them; it was a window into their customers’ future desires, enabling them to tailor offerings like never before.”


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This pivotal moment transformed Lazarev’s view on AI and helped him understand its immense potential. “It was a lightbulb moment for me, seeing AI not just as a tool for efficiency but as a bridge to deeper customer insights,” he said.

Since that watershed moment, Lazarev has encouraged his clients to embrace the power of AI for both analytics and decision-making itself. He encourages organizations to view AI as more than just an efficiency and cost-saving tool. AI has the potential to bridge the divide between companies and their customers, he said, helping enterprises better understand their market and increase profits through data-driven investments.

Hands-On Leadership Helps Create AI Success

While many executives are eager to implement AI in their organizations, the most successful among them are hands-on. In fact, many leaders emphasize the importance of C-suite involvement across the planning, implementation and iteration phases of AI initiatives. 

Simon Bacher, CEO of education technology startup Ling App, is one such executive. 

“I have utilized AI as a strategic tool in a number of ways,” said Bacher, whose executive team has leveraged AI to better understand user needs, identify new business opportunities and create a personalized language learning recommendation engine that generates individual learning paths for users.


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Looking back on this experience, Bacher said his role in AI model development has been crucial to the success of AI in his organization. He therefore recommends that executives play an active role in AI initiatives of all types.

“I’m deeply involved in understanding the possibilities that AI presents while also being cognizant of its limitations. My involvement in fine-tuning and tweaking our AI models frequently helps yield more precise predictions and thus improves our overall business strategies,” Bacher said.

From AI-Aware to AI-Savvy

While many executives are just beginning to understand the possibilities associated with AI in business strategy, early adopters are already using AI to inform their long-term planning. Many experts, like Greenstein, believe the role of AI in C-suite decision-making will only grow in the future. 

“The C-suite, starting with the CEO, is already changing,” Greenstein said. “They are investing in new skills to move from being AI-aware to AI-savvy. They are creating new C-suite roles to help govern and transform with AI — roles like the chief AI officer or expanding the roles of chief digital or technology offerings — to bring more AI thinking into the leadership team.”


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Successful executive AI adoption starts at the top. That’s why Greenstein said a large share of his work involves collaborating with enterprise leaders to clearly articulate the potential of AI and help C-suite executives expand their AI skillset. 

“We do a lot of leadership education today for boards of directors, CEOs and C-suite leaders,” he said. 

Kirill agrees. 

“Perhaps the most significant insight has come from realizing the crucial role of leadership in the successful integration of AI,” he said. 

“It’s one thing to have the technology, but it’s another to weave it into the fabric of your business strategy. This requires a vision that’s shared across the executive team and an openness to iteratively refine your approach based on feedback from the ground.”

Editor’s note: Learn about Nutanix’s AI platform, GPT-in-a-Box, and the latest IT industry trends in the 2024 Enterprise Cloud Index report.

Marcus Taylor has worked as an executive and thought leadership writer for the information technology industry since 2016, specializing in SaaS, healthcare IT,  cybersecurity and quantum computing. He is reachable through his website,

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