Survey Reveals Businesses’ Lack of Readiness for AI Despite Buzz

The adoption rate of generative AI within businesses has yet to meet the high expectations surrounding the technology, according to a recent survey, with data privacy, regulation, and IT infrastructure posing significant barriers to its widespread utilization.

A global survey conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights and Australia-based telecoms company Telstra, involving over 300 business leaders, unveiled that only 9% of them were extensively leveraging AI in their operations.

Despite harboring optimism about AI’s potential and anticipating its broader integration, the current landscape indicates that even early adopters have implemented the technology within limited business domains.

Stela Solar, Inaugural Director at Australia’s National Artificial Intelligence Centre, highlighted a prevalent misconception regarding the ease of deploying mature, enterprise-ready generative AI in the survey report. She emphasized that its effective adoption may necessitate companies to enhance data quality and capability, bolster privacy measures, invest in AI skilling, and institute organization-wide safe and responsible AI governance.

Solar further elaborated that various ancillary elements, such as app design, seamless data connectivity, alignment with business processes, and adherence to corporate policies, are imperative components still requiring attention in the journey toward comprehensive AI integration.

Most business leaders anticipate a significant expansion in the deployment of generative AI across various business functions or general purposes by 2024. According to Chris Levanes, head of South Asia marketing at Telstra, early adopters in 2023 primarily utilized the technology for automating repetitive, low-value tasks, as they required minimal human oversight.

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The majority view AI as a competitive opportunity, but only 8% see it as a threat. (Credits: Unsplash)

By 2024, an overwhelming 85% of respondents foresee leveraging generative AI for such low-value tasks, with 77% intending to implement it in customer service and 74% for strategic analysis. Additionally, areas like product innovation, supply chain logistics, and sales are identified as potential domains for deployment.

Despite these ambitious plans, a report characterizes them as high on “ambition and hubris,” citing several headwinds to a widespread rollout of generative AI. Chief among these are concerns regarding IT resources and capabilities. Less than 30% of respondents rated their company’s IT attributes as conducive to rapid adoption of generative AI, with even fewer expressing confidence in their IT infrastructure’s ability to support the technology.

Moreover, 56% of respondents cited limited IT investment budgets as a significant impediment to rolling out generative AI. Regulatory compliance and data privacy emerged as key barriers, with 77% of respondents highlighting these concerns. This is a notable issue for the generative AI ecosystem, especially since the technology gained prominence following the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022, resulting in various legal disputes and security breaches.

Laurence Liew, director for AI innovation at AI Singapore, emphasized the importance of addressing these risks through well-established governance structures and robust security protocols for AI models. He stressed the need for companies to ensure proper governance and secure internal documents to prevent AI models from inadvertently disclosing sensitive information.

Additionally, the report underscores the significance of implementing robust internal cybersecurity measures, although a thin majority of respondents expressed doubts about the capability of their cybersecurity measures to support a generative AI rollout.

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Expert: Proficient AI implementation is crucial, and will distinguish leaders from followers. (Credits: Unsplash)

The survey also revealed concerns about the lack of relevant generative AI skills, with companies apprehensive about the availability of suitable talent internally and in the market at large.

However, the survey revealed predominantly positive sentiments regarding the future role of generative AI in business. While six out of ten respondents anticipate substantial disruption within their industry due to generative AI over the next five years, a striking 78% view it as a competitive opportunity, with only about 8% perceiving it as a threat.

Despite the formidable challenge of developing generative AI solutions capable of responsibly handling large datasets and contextualizing them for business applications, Geraldine Kor, managing director of South Asia and head of global enterprise at Telstra International, believes that the investment will soon prove to be highly worthwhile.

Kor emphasized the potential game-changing impact of proficiently implemented generative AI, stating, “When implemented successfully, [generative AI] proficiency will be a game-changer for most organizations and will distinguish leaders from followers,” in a statement about the survey released on Monday.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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