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Quick take: Salesforce’s new Generative AI in IT Survey reveals that over half of senior IT leaders are either experimenting with or actively using generative AI in their business. The problem? Nearly all admit they must take measures to equip their company to use it successfully and responsibly.
A new survey of more than 500 senior IT leaders reveals that a majority (67%) are prioritizing generative AI for their business within the next 18 months, with one-third (33%) naming it as a top priority.
Despite the interest, most IT leaders have technical and ethical concerns with the technology that could impact its adoption in the coming year.
The data highlights the potential of generative AI, and shows what IT leaders will need to prime their tech infrastructure, data strategy, security and ethical guidelines, and employee skills necessary for the massive opportunities ahead.
Many senior IT leaders see generative AI as a ‘game changer’ and a tool to better serve customers
The majority of senior IT leaders (57%) believe generative AI is a ‘game changer.’ They believe the technology has the potential to help them better serve their customers, take advantage of data, and operate more efficiently. This outlook is echoed even among the skeptics — 80% of those who say the technology is ‘over-hyped’ agree that generative AI will help them better serve their customers.
Ethical, operational concerns draw skepticism
Thirty-three percent of those surveyed feel that generative AI is ‘over-hyped,’ with concerns that the technology brings the potential for security risks (79%) and bias (73%).
Concerns extend beyond just those who feel the technology is ‘over-hyped’ — a majority of the 515 IT leaders surveyed are skeptical about the ethical implications of generative AI. Almost six in 10 (59%) believe generative AI outputs are inaccurate and almost two-thirds (63%) agree there is bias in generative AI outputs (e.g. misinformation and hate speech). In addition, 71% agree generative AI would increase their carbon footprint through increased IT energy use.
Security risks, integration, and siloed data are top barriers to generative AI implementation
Businesses aren’t yet prepared for successful implementation: 65% of senior IT leaders can’t justify the implementation of generative AI at the moment. Surveyed leaders report major barriers to using generative AI successfully within their organization, and security barriers are particularly top of mind among those currently using the technology.
Because of these barriers, nearly all respondents (99%) believe their business must take measures to equip themselves to successfully leverage the technology.
Collaboration can address generative AI’s technical and ethical concerns
Ethical use must underpin the use of generative AI. But despite raising ethical and security concerns, leaders aren’t yet sure how to put ethics into practice — about one-third (30%) of businesses believe they must have ethical use guidelines to successfully implement generative AI within their business.
The responsibility is on businesses to work together and knowledge-share to make generative AI a reality across the enterprise. Leaders see collaboration as a key tool to ensure the technology is functional and used in an ethical way.
- The majority (81%) of senior IT leaders believe generative AI should combine public and private data sources.
- Most (82%) senior IT leaders think businesses should work together to improve the functionality of generative AI technology.
- Over 8 in 10 (83%) senior IT leaders think businesses must work together to ensure generative AI is used ethically.
“Generative AI represents a step change in how organizations across industries will analyze data, automate processes, and empower sales, service, marketing, and commerce professionals to grow customer relationships — but it comes with new risks and challenges,” said Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud, Salesforce.
Whether generating a tailored sales email or customer support chat response, an ethics-first approach grounded in trusted data and human-in-the-loop workflows is what will allow enterprises to safely and responsibly use generative AI to deliver against today’s growing customer expectations.