GenAI reality check as companies take cautious approach

Published on the 17/10/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

GenAI reality check as companies take cautious approach

Less than five percent to deploy APIs or GenAI-enabled apps this year

The hype around AI, and generative AI in particular, may be continuing to run sky high, but businesses are taking a more sensible approach to deployment according to a new report.

The Tech Trends 2024 Report from global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group shows that nearly a third of ‘adopter’ respondents – those who have already invested in AI or who plan to do so by the end of next year – say they need more information before deciding to adopt new generative AI features from major vendors. Sixteen percent say they’re holding off on the features until other organisations test them.

“It’s up to CIOs to ensure it reaps more benefit than harm,”

Among those more keen, just 17 percent say they’ll adopt new generative AI features from major vendors in beta access while 30 percent agree they’ll do so when it becomes generally available. 

Those deemed ‘skeptics’ are about twice as likely to say they need more information or are not interested in adopting generative AI features at all, with the report noting less than one in five skeptics say they will be adopting new generative AI features at general availability or sooner. 

And while companies who are planning AI adoption, or have already embarked on it, are generally positive about the potential impact, they’re also taking a realistic view, with 31 percent believing AI will bring a balance of benefits and challenges, and 45 percent believing the impact will be ‘somewhat positive’ in benefiting the business. Just 20 percent believe AI will transform the business and take it to new heights. None of the adopters believe AI posed an ‘existential threat’ to their business, and just three percent of skeptics felt it did. 

Last year, Info-Tech’s annual Tech Trends report featured generative AI as one of its seven trends, advising companies to experiment with generative AI tools and curate data sets for the purpose of training models. 

This year’s report, which draws on data from 848 IT industry professionals and IT leaders, is a deep dive into the ‘generative enterprise’.

Brian Jackson, Info-Tech principal research director and research lead for the 2024 Tech Trends report, says there are significant opportunities for tech leaders to consider and seize, including creating new revenue-generating business models or optimising existing operations.

“There are also severe risks to mitigate, ranging from new regulatory activity to protecting intellectual property,” Jackson says. 

Despite those risks, one in five of those adopting AI admitted no one was responsible for AI governance yet, highlighting how best practice is still emerging.

For the majority, it’s the CIO who will be carrying the AI governance load, with one in three tasking overseeing governance to the CIO. Second most popular was the option for a committee or group (17 percent), while for 10 percent, AI governance falls under the purview of two or more executives, with CIOs likely to be included in both of those categories. 

“CIOs stand in the unique position of navigating the new relationship between the organisation and AI, and it’s up to them to ensure it reaps more benefit than harm,” Jackson says. 

Gartner’s first hype cycle for generative AI has forecast that by 2026 more than 80 percent of enterprises will have used generative AI APIs or deployed generative AI-enabled applications. But it too highlights that despite all the hype, generative AI is still very much a nascent technology, and while hype might lead us to believe everyone is embracing the technology, that’s far from true. Gartner says less than five percent of enterprises will have used GenAI APIs or models and/or deployed GenAI enabled applications in production environments this year. 

For those making plans for AI, Info-Tech’s report shows business analytics or intelligence is the most popular strategic or risk management task they plan to deploy AI for, with 77 percent planning to do so by the end of next year. 

Seven in 10 organisations also plan to use AI to identify risks and improve security in the same timeframe, with monitoring and governance on the table for 64 percent.

While AI is an emerging technology, the report also points to plenty of other ‘transformative’ technologies that companies have already invested in and are continuing to grow their investment in, including data management solutions, APIs (application programming interfaces), cloud computing and cybersecurity.

AI, the report says, is ‘hot on the heels’ of those transformative technologies, with planned investment in AI among those not already invested indicating it has more momentum than any of the other transformative technologies for 2024. 

Other technologies organisations plan to invest in this year – but haven’t already done so – include robotic process automation (RPA) or intelligent process automation (IPA) at 22 percent, no-code/low-code platforms (20 percent), internet of things (14 percent) and data management solutions (14 percent).

Mixed reality leads the ‘not invested but plan to invest after 2024’ category, at 21 percent, while – unsurprisingly – quantum computing leads the ‘no plans to invest’ category at 81 percent. Meanwhile one-third of companies feel they’ve done all their on-premise server investment, which leads the ‘already invested but do not plan further investment’.

Among the respondents the bulk felt IT supported the business (38.9 percent) or optimised the business (28.4 percent), with just 14.2 percent brave enough to say they felt it transformed their business (14.2 percent), and 8.1 percent saying it ‘expands’ the business. 

For 10.4 percent, IT was struggling to support the business. 

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