The latest PwC GenAI Business Leaders Survey reveals Irish executives' views on the impact, adoption

Will GenAI transform business as we know it?

  • June 25, 2024

How mature is Ireland’s GenAI market?

The latest PwC GenAI Business Leaders Survey explores the perspectives of Irish executives on the impact, ownership and planned use of GenAI within their organisations. The survey also investigates their views on GenAI’s potential influence on the Irish economy and workforce.

The insights gathered from this survey provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state of GenAI adoption in Ireland, its implications for employees and the economy, the scale of the opportunity it presents, and areas that require further attention and development.


of leaders expect GenAI to significantly impact their business, up 9%.


believe GenAI will increase jobs or have no net impact, down 27%.


welcome the EU AI Act and similar legislation.


believe GenAI will increase cybersecurity risk in the next 12 months.

Extensive GenAI adoption expected across Irish businesses

A significant majority of respondents (83%) expect GenAI to have a substantial impact on their businesses over the next five years, a 9% increase from our November 2023 survey. The survey indicates that GenAI will be used across various organisational functions in the coming year, including: IT development (22%), improve collaboration (17%), support sales & marketing (12%) and enhance supply chain 10%. However, 15% of respondents have no plans to use GenAI in the year ahead, compared to 20% in November 2023.

Organisations have already begun to realise GenAI’s value, primarily in productivity, operational efficiency and enhanced customer experience.

While GenAI has the potential to be used enterprise-wide, it differs from most traditional IT systems. GenAI offers a new capability that can be applied to a wide range of business challenges by implementing a single system. In contrast, traditional IT systems are developed and deployed to address specific business issues or requirements. As a result, GenAI represents a transformational project rather than a simple IT implementation.

As with all change projects, business leaders must foster trust throughout the organisation. At its core, GenAI implementation must be human-led and tech-powered. Organisations should run a change management programme in parallel to support any GenAI initiative. However, attempting this across an entire organisation can be challenging. Consequently, organisations are increasingly opting to bundle multiple GenAI projects within a single business area, such as the finance function.

Positive outlook on GenAI’s economic impact amid shifting workforce trends

Irish business leaders remain optimistic about the impact of GenAI on the economy over the next five years with 77% expecting it to have a positive effect, similar to the 74% reported in our November 2023 survey. However, only 55% believe that GenAI will increase jobs or have no net impact, a significant decrease from the 82% in the previous survey. This change in perception reflects the areas where organisations are already realising value, such as productivity, operational efficiency and enhanced customer experience. Additionally, 46% of business leaders do not plan to use GenAI to address labour shortages or increase workplace automation, a notable drop from the 70% reported in November 2023.

While Irish business leaders recognise GenAI’s potential to benefit their organisations and the economy, their views on its impact on jobs appear to be evolving.

These factors underscore the need for organisations to support their employees in maximising the value of GenAI. Skills such as prompt engineering, which involves structuring queries for GenAI systems, are expected to become more mainstream and part of the standard skill set. Upskilling initiatives should therefore be incorporated into organisations’ learning and development plans.

Effective prompting is a critical element in unlocking GenAI’s potential. When combined with robust data governance for structured and unstructured data, organisations can marry the power of GenAI with organisational knowledge. This forms the foundation for GenAI systems that are fine-tuned to an organisation’s policies, products and practices.

Trust emerges as a critical focus for Irish business leaders

This year’s survey reveals that Irish business leaders are increasingly focusing on trust as a critical issue in the context of GenAI. Trust in GenAI encompasses cybersecurity, governance and compliance.

When asked if GenAI was likely to increase cybersecurity risk in their organisation over the next 12 months, 91% of respondents agreed, significantly outweighing concerns about legal liabilities and reputational risk (79%) and the spread of misinformation (74%). While three-quarters (74%) are of the view that GenAI will not enhance their organisation’s ability to build trust with shareholders in the next 12 months.

Irish organisations have begun to make progress in the area of AI/GenAI governance. While the full adoption of AI/GenAI governance remained stable at 7% compared to 6% in November 2023, the percentage of respondents with no plans to implement governance fell from 20% to 7%. Over the next 12 months, 75% of respondents said they have a plan or are developing a plan for such governance structures, up from 56% last year.

The final aspect of trust is compliance, with the EU AI Act being the most significant new regulation for AI that most Irish organisations need to comply with. Despite the legislation being very new, Irish business leaders have expressed positive sentiment towards it, with 84% welcoming the EU AI Act and similar regulations as necessary measures to prevent the potential risks of AI.

Irish organisations making strides in AI adoption

The percentage of respondents not actively taking steps to integrate AI into their operations has significantly decreased from 39% in November 2023 to just 5%. While many more organisations have started their AI journey, only 7% reported significant implementations of AI technologies in multiple areas,unchanged from November 2023.

Interestingly, the percentage of organisations with a nominated person heading AI across the enterprise has dropped from 20% in November 2023 to 7%. Although this might seem counterintuitive, it likely reflects the fact that AI is no longer considered the sole domain of data scientists but rather a business tool used across the organisation. This is supported by the fact that 77% of these roles are within IT.

The impact of GenAI is expected to be substantial for Irish organisations, with 83% believing that it will significantly change how their organisation creates, delivers and captures value in the next three years. Additionally, 50% agree that GenAI will increase profitability by more than 5%, while 40% believe it will increase revenue by more than 5%.

These findings suggest that Irish organisations anticipate the most significant impacts of GenAI to be in cost reduction and increased efficiency. In fact, 88% of respondents agree that GenAI will deliver increased efficiencies of more than 5% in their employees’ time at work.

Key actions to unlock GenAI’s potential

Prioritise use cases

GenAI represents a new type of IT system with enterprise-wide potential. However, its implementation should be driven by well-defined use cases. Initially, focus on single business functions or end-to-end journeys, then apply the learnings at an enterprise level.

Adopt a human-led, tech-powered approach

GenAI’s new capabilities require new ways of working. GenAI should be viewed as a change process rather than a simple IT implementation, and upskilling employees is crucial for these technologies to deliver value.

Leverage governance to realise benefits

Good governance for AI systems will soon become a legal requirement under the EU AI Act. To realise AI’s value responsibly and securely, organisations must establish robust governance frameworks and be able to measure the benefits.

Partner with us to build trust and drive impact

At PwC, we believe that the most effective GenAI systems are built on a foundation of trust—trust in your data, your technology, your workforce’s skills, and, ultimately, trust in your AI governance. By leveraging our deep industry experience and business understanding and combining them with our AI implementation and change management expertise, we can help you establish trust and achieve a tangible business impact.

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Martin Duffy

Martin Duffy

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Aisling Curtis

Aisling Curtis

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

David Lee

David Lee

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Keith Power

Keith Power

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 86 824 6993