IT leaders buying into AI to support exploding workloads

Published on the 03/10/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

IT leaders buying into AI to support exploding workloads

Easing software burden through AI…

Senior IT leaders have bought into AI to support their daily work – and the higher up the chain they are, the more enthusiastic they are about embracing the technology.

The second annual State of Workplace Technology report from vendor Freshworks shows that IT directors and above are leading the way in AI adoption, with 91 percent of IT directors and higher using AI to support their workload. The number falls to 66 percent for team leaders/managers and just 33 percent of individual contributors.

Millennials (81 percent) and Gen Z (75 percent) IT professionals have also been quick to embrace AI to support their workload, ahead of the 57 percent of Gen Xers using the technology and just 27 percent of Boomers.

“Understanding the potential of AI to boost efficiencies in IT starts with an honest accounting of the tech overload IT teams deal with.”

Enthusiasm for generative AI was high too, no doubt in part due to the positive foundation built on more conventional AI tools for IT, such as AIOps.

More than 2,000 IT professionals worldwide, including 150 in A/NZ, were surveyed for the report, which also found IT professionals citing the well-worn line of generative AI freeing up time otherwise spent on repetitive tasks (49 percent) and enabling them to do more complex, meaningful work (45 percent).

In this case, the stats come with the additional figures that IT professionals surveyed estimated they can save more than five hours a week using AI to complete those repetitive tasks.

AI has long been touted as a possible solution for under-pressure IT teams – teams which the report shows are managing more software than ever (up 71 percent on last year to an average of 24 applications) and are looking for opportunities to simplify.

“Understanding the potential of AI to boost efficiencies in IT starts with an honest accounting of the tech overload IT teams deal with currently – and the cultural challenges that brings,” the report says.

Forty-four percent of IT pros lament their tech stack is packed with unnecessary features, and 42 percent say they don’t even know how the software got there in the first place. Just one-third of all software apps are being used daily.

Little wonder then that enthusiasm for paring back software contracts is running even higher than enthusiasm for AI, at 98 percent.

“Smart, simplified technology, paired with the power of AI will do more to drive productivity and efficiency than legacy software has done in decades,” Freshworks CIO Prasad Ramakrishnan claims.

“IT teams who embrace automation and technological agility to reduce complexity will be the ones whose teams come out ahead,” he adds.

But interest in the technology remains tempered by concerns about potential risks around generative AI, particularly around security, data privacy and intellectual property, which were rated the top concerns in a recent Gartner report. Mass generative AI availability was the second most pressing emerging risk cited by enterprises, beaten only by third-party viability. Financial planning uncertainty came third.

Indeed, even with their high enthusiasm and use of AI, 87 percent of those surveyed for the State of Workplace Technology report noted concern with using generative AI. That’s despite 95 percent of those same IT pros seeing benefits to employees using generative AI to help complete work.

recent Datacom survey shows Australian and New Zealand business leaders are also concerned.

Of the 200 Kiwi senior business leaders surveyed, just 36 percent were comfortable that they understood the security risks around AI, and just 53 percent had implemented policies around the technology’s use.

The same survey of more than 300 senior business leaders in Australia revealed similar concerns, with 60 percent expressing security and safety concerns over AI causing a loss of control.

(Interestingly, Datacom’s reports showed New Zealand lagging well behind Australia when it comes to use of AI, with just 48 percent of Kiwi organisations reporting they currently use some form of the technology, versus 72 percent adoption in Australia.)

Ran Xu, Gartner risk and audit practice director of research, says the heightened concerns around generative AI reflects both the rapid growth of public awareness and usage of generative AI tools, as well as the breadth of potential use cases, and therefore potential risks, that the tools engender.

That’s reflected too, in Gartner’s security spend figures for Australia and New Zealand, with the rapid emergence and use of generative AI, alongside cloud, hybrid workforces and the evolving regulatory environment driving increased spend.

Australian organisations are forecast to spend 11.5 percent more next year on security, with spend reaching almost AU$7.74 billion. New Zealand growth is on par at 11.0 percent, to hit nearly NZ$1 billion.

Gartner notes that privacy remains a top organisational priority globally, as regulations impacting the processing of personal data continue to emerge, including those related to the use of AI.

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