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AI Balancing Act: Leaders Want Speed, IT Wants Security

A recent survey of 600 IT professionals reveals a new mandate from their leaders: incorporate generative AI into the technology stack — fast. IT is pushing back, raising concerns over resources, data security, and data quality. Nearly 3 in 5 IT professionals say business stakeholders hold unreasonable expectations on the speed and agility of new technology implementation. In fact, 88% of IT professionals claim they’re unable to support the deluge of AI-related requests they receive at their organization.

Why it matters: We are in a productivity and efficiency revolution with the introduction of generative AI — businesses are beginning to see productivity gains and executives want a piece of the pie. While businesses seek to stay ahead of the competition by rapidly implementing generative AI, the investment might see diminishing returns without the proper infrastructure, resources, and partners. IT must work with their leadership to ensure that quickly integrating generative AI doesn’t mean sacrificing data security and quality.

Executives are understandably excited about the promise of AI – and productivity gains are a big part of that.

Juan Perez, EVP and Chief Information Officer

Salesforce perspective: “Executives are understandably excited about the promise of AI – and productivity gains are a big part of that. CIOs and IT teams can either hang back and potentially miss the opportunity to take advantage of the technology before their competitors, or they can lead the way, rethinking how companies implement trusted AI in a responsible and sustainable manner.” – Juan Perez, EVP and Chief Information Officer

The Salesforce research found:

IT in the hotseat as pressure mounts to implement generative AI quickly

Most IT professionals surveyed (87%) believe generative AI has so far met or exceeded its hype. As a result, IT is tasked with getting the technology implemented — and fast

Generative AI is the #1 technology IT feels pressure to onboard quickly.

As demand increases, IT is at the front lines.

  • 9 in 10 IT professionals say generative AI has forced them to re-evaluate their technology strategy, shifting their team’s mindset around how new technology is onboarded and used.
  • 86% of IT professionals say their job has become more important since the introduction of generative AI.
  • 68% of IT professionals say their leadership expects them to be experts in generative AI. 
Company leadership prioritizes speed above security and data quality, IT says

According to the research, IT teams identified the C-suite as the #1 influencers demanding fast generative AI implementation. When asked about their team’s priorities compared to those of their leadership, IT reports they’re focused on data security and quality while they view their leadership as prioritizing speed‌. 

Salesforce’s recent Connectivity Benchmark Report further highlights IT’s data concerns, with 95% of IT leaders reporting integration issues as an impediment to AI adoption.

As they juggle various priorities, nearly half (48%) of IT professionals agree that they struggle to find a balance between speed, business value, and security when implementing new technology. 

IT faces AI challenges, putting fast implementation at risk

Amid this pressure to deliver, IT faces rising concerns on how to budget and resource effectively to implement new technologies like AI. 

  • IT Teams’ Top 5 AI Challenges
    • Lack of AI skills in workforce 
    • Data security
    • Data quality
    • Implementing AI slows down other initiatives
    • Increased cost of programming/tools

Additionally, almost one-third (31%) of IT workers say they lack the time to implement and train AI models and algorithms, and nearly half say their infrastructure can’t keep up with demand:

  • 48% worry their organization’s security infrastructure can’t keep up with demand for innovation.
  • 45% worry their organization’s data management infrastructure can’t keep up with demand for innovation.

“For those who are ready to lead, approaches like retrieval augmented generation (RAG) can help, both reducing costs from training LLMs while keeping data safe and secure and giving companies a faster time to market with AI-powered solutions,” said Perez.

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In partnership with Vanson Bourne, Salesforce conducted a double-anonymous survey of 600 IT professionals (200 IT leaders and 400 IT individual contributors) in Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The survey was fielded in December 2023 and January 2024.


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