How are business leaders embracing AI technologies to unlock competitive advantage?

Global business leaders have emphasised the importance of adopting a ‘digital’ mindset to secure a competitive edge, with AI identified as the leading technology crucial for business success. Findings from HLB’s annual Survey of Business Leaders 2024, has highlighted the significance of emerging technologies in fostering innovation, creativity, and productivity for long-term growth and prosperity.

This year’s research examined barriers, use cases and AI maturity across various stages in the AI adoption journey. HLB surveyed almost 1,000 business leaders from 52 countries to understand leaders’ sentiment towards AI and the varying actions and strategic tactics leaders are making in the next 12 months.

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Commenting on the findings, Marco Donzelli, HLB’s Global CEO, said: “Recent years have brought a slew of challenges for businesses. The resilience and adaptability shown in these times have been nothing short of remarkable and testament to the enduring spirit of leadership that adapts, innovates, and thrives even in the face of adversity. Technology is advancing rapidly, shaping the future of business through innovative adoption and progress. The accelerated embrace of new working models, mobile, and cloud-enabled, marks a departure from the norms of the past decade. Undoubtedly, AI will play a pivotal role in the future of business, and I look forward to what lies ahead.”

Key findings include:

  • Economic optimism up by 14 percentage points, and 85% of business leaders are confident in their ability to grow revenue in 2024
  • Leaders face a conveyor belt of risks: Over past 5 years, mean risk levels in almost every category increased by 8 percentage points, while concerns around climate risk have doubled
  • 65% of leaders rank AI as the most important technology for their business over the next 5 years, and 68% say emerging technologies (including AI) are key to driving innovation, creativity and productivity

About HLB
HLB International is a global network of independent advisory and accounting firms. Formed in 1969, we service clients through our member firms in 156 countries, with 40,831 partners and staff in 1,128 offices worldwide. Learn more about us and tell us what matters to you by visiting

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About the research – HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2024
Between September and November 2023, HLB collected 979 survey responses from business leaders across 52 countries and a broad range of industry backgrounds. Responses were collected via an online survey tool or telephone interview. The research sample was selected and controlled via HLB firms from their CRM data and supplemented with external market responses. In addition to the quantitative data, six in-depth interviews were conducted via video calls with various subject matter experts. The base for all figures is 979 unless otherwise indicated.