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Charting the future GenAi


GenAI: Why Switzerland needs to act now on reskilling and regulation

Published 19 January 2024 in Technology • 6 min read

A new report co-authored by IMD highlights the crucial need to reskill employees, and to develop sound regulatory guidelines for organizations seeking guidance on usage.

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we live and work. And it’s happening fast.

In 2023, we saw the meteoric rise of generative AI, including ChatGPT and other deep neural network tools that can effectively write code and content, solve problems, and come up with new products. The promise of these new technologies is clear. McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and others are forecasting gains in productivity and revenue that could see trillions added to global GDP in the coming decade.

Less clear, perhaps, are the risks. GenAI is still in its infancy, but as innovation races on apace, there are growing concerns around issues like data privacy and bias, as we know GenAI outputs can be unfavorable to swathes of the population because of human bias in input data. There are also questions around the impact of automation on jobs and skills. Harnessing the potential of GenAI technologies will mean simultaneously navigating the challenges ahead, even as we remain unsure of what those challenges will be.

To build clarity around how all of this is playing out in Switzerland today, we have co-authored a white paper with colleagues from digitalswitzerland and EPFL. Charting the Future: Switzerland’s Path to Generative AI Leadership in 2024 and Beyond, which launches this week, is a deep dive into Swiss attitudes, exposure, and adoption of GenAI technologies in organizations and households.

The report leverages a proprietary survey of professionals led by IMD in November, as well as the findings of two focused DigitalXchange workshops with faculty and industry experts hosted by EPFL and digitalswitzerland.

After careful consideration of the results, we found two critical areas that we believe decision-makers in government, business, and education need to address as a matter of urgency.

The first is that demand for new skills is set to explode in 2024 and beyond as GenAI reconfigures the workplace. According to our data, organizations are bracing for massive increases in the need for AI and machine learning experts, data engineers, and cybersecurity specialists. If we are to safeguard innovation and Swiss competitiveness, decision-makers will need to prioritize continuous investment in training and upskilling to meet these needs.

How to use the white heat of technology to forge greater success
“AI and GenAI technologies are here to stay, and the pace of innovation is only set to increase.”

We find that:

  • More than 60% of Swiss businesses have already adopted AI, and of these more than 30% are using AI in five or more business functions.
  • More than half of Swiss professionals foresee a major shift in the workplace in the next five years towards technology and data functions.
  • Some 30% of our respondents believe that 50% of the existing workforce will require reskilling.

At the same time, our data shows that Swiss professionals are cognizant of certain risks attached to GenAI. Among the greatest concerns are privacy and cybersecurity issues as well as the risk of overdependence on these new technologies as they do more of the cognitive legwork in organizations. A cause for real concern, we believe, is the lack of awareness in terms of regulating the use of GenAI.

Our report finds that Swiss professionals are broadly ignorant of official policy on AI, and would welcome more by way of public regulation – though a clear majority would prefer a mix of public and private or self-regulation.

Of perhaps greater concern is the widespread absence of company guidelines on GenAI, even though more than half of Swiss businesses routinely use these technologies. We believe that public authorities and organizations in Switzerland need to act now to delineate measures – information sharing and frameworks – that safeguard the public and the workforce, while supporting the growth and innovation opportunities that GenAI affords.

We find that:

  • 34% of Swiss professionals want greater government regulation of AI while 57% are unaware of current policies in Switzerland.
  • 71% of respondents would like to see a mixture of public and privately managed regulation.
  • 52% of Swiss organizations do not currently enact a clear policy on the adoption or use of AI, even though more than 60% of respondents say they are using AI in the workplace today.
Gen AI
More than 60% of Swiss businesses have already adopted AI, and of these more than 30% are using AI in five or more business functions

Looking at the evidence, we believe that Switzerland is ahead of a real opportunity to occupy a leadership role in GenAI – to disrupt rather than wait to be disrupted – but only if decision-makers take concrete measures to invest in skills and training and to build the flexible regulatory frameworks at national and intra-organizational levels to safeguard the prudent and judicious use of these technologies without stifling innovation. Of course, this may not be easy.

Small countries like Switzerland with advanced digital capabilities have a chance to leverage their size and agility to have a guiding voice in how we shape the AI revolution globally to punch above our weight, as we have in banking and other sectors. But to do so, we need to double down on investment in education and ensure that the way we educate our people is equal to the demands ahead of us.

This will mean shifting from the tried-and-tested: from the passive, faculty-led, ex-cathedra education of the past to new models that are demand-driven, user-centric, personalized to learners’ individual needs, and most likely powered by GenAI technologies. To achieve this, we will also need to reskill providers of continuing education.

Meanwhile, policymakers and business leaders must not wait to see what others will do and act decisively, building and communicating regulatory rubrics and organizational guidelines that will empower and protect innovation. Our report sets out a number of detailed recommendations for government, business, and continuing education that we hope will help leaders plot a steady path forward in these exciting times.

While we focus on Switzerland, we also hope that our white paper shares insights and solutions that will have global relevance. AI and GenAI technologies are here to stay, and the pace of innovation is only set to increase. Managing our digital future is contingent, we believe, on anticipating both potential and risks – in this sense, GenAI is very much a moving target. It has never been more important not only to act decisively but also to act with prudence, judgment, and common sense.

This article is based on a white paper by IMD in collaboration with EPFL and digitalswitzerland.


Amit Joshiv - IMD Professor

Amit M. Joshi

Professor of AI, Analytics and Marketing Strategy at IMD

Amit Joshi is Professor of AI, Analytics, and Marketing Strategy at IMD and Program Director of the Digital Strategy, Analytics & AI program, Generative AI for Business Sprint, and the Business Analytics for Leaders course.  He specializes in helping organizations use artificial intelligence and develop their big data, analytics, and AI capabilities. An award-winning professor and researcher, he has extensive experience of AI and analytics-driven transformations in industries such as banking, fintech, retail, automotive, telecoms, and pharma.

Sarah Toms

Sarah E. Toms

Chief Learning Innovation Officer

Sarah Toms is Chief Learning Innovation Officer at IMD where she leads the Learning Innovation and AI strategy. Sarah previously co-founded Wharton Interactive, an initiative at the Wharton School that has scaled globally. A demonstrated thought leader in the educational technology field, she is fueled by a passion to find and develop innovative ways to make every learning environment active, engaging, more meaningful, and learner-centric. Sarah is an AWS Education Champion, and has been on the Executive Committee of Reimagine Education for 8 years. She has spent more than 25 years working at the bleeding edge of technology, and was an entrepreneur for over a decade, founding companies that built global CRM, product development, productivity management, and financial systems. In addition, Sarah is coauthor of The Customer Centricity Playbook, the Digital Book Awards 2019 Best Business Book.


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