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Foundry’s Inaugural AI Priorities Study Examines Utilization of Artificial Intelligence in Organizations

Foundry, the media, data, and martech division of IDG, Inc. released its inaugural 2023 AI Priorities Study. The study comes at a time when ChatGPT and a host of other Generative AI (Gen AI) tools are becoming widely accessible, even as organizations grapple with the technology’s reach, power and capabilities. Foundry surveyed global IT decision-makers (ITDMs) to understand AI and Gen AI use cases, investment and implementation levels, and the challenges these technologies pose for organizations.

One standout discovery was how widespread Gen AI adoption already is among organizations. Almost half of ITDMs reported implementing (20%) or piloting (25%) Gen AI technology to some extent in their organization, and an additional 47% are actively researching the technology. Yet despite this rapid rate of adoption, nearly one-quarter of ITDMs expressed concerns that their organization is moving too fast with respect to the use of Gen AI.

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“Generative AI is poised to unleash the next wave of productivity within organizations, and IT leaders are extensively researching and piloting these technologies to understand their full potential and mitigate the risks,” said Stacey Raap, Marketing & Research Manager, Foundry. “We undertook this AI Priorities study to understand the marketplace dynamics and align priorities surrounding AI, namely the driving objectives among organizations, the specific implementation concerns, and how vendors can build products and educational tools that address both, and hone in on the specifics around Gen AI.”

Integration Speed Bumps

Due to AI and machine learning’s ability to constantly monitor and analyze large amounts of data, and automate mundane activities, it is no surprise that ITDMs reported their current top use cases for AI applications to be data analysis, employee productivity, and process automation. However, only 34% say that their organization currently has the right data and technology in place to enable effective AI.

AI technologies also present challenges and ethical implications that ITDMs must address when implementing it into their IT systems and processes, including data privacy (prioritizing data privacy and ensure that AI systems handle and process data compliantly), security and robustness (strength and ability to protect AI models and data from unauthorized access), and transparency and explainability (ability to understand how decisions are made and access to explanations).

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Specific to Gen AI, top factors impacting the integration with existing systems include data integration (45%), security and privacy (45%), and user experience (34%). Alarmingly, only 36% of ITDMs reported that their organization has a policy in place and/or system in place to monitor the use of Gen AI.

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Preparing for the AI-Driven Workplace

Despite these apprehensions, the vast majority of organizations and IT leaders are preparing for a workplace that embraces Gen AI. ITDMs are actively identifying use cases (57%), initiating pilot programs (45%), training/upskilling employees on Gen AI (41%), and establishing policies and guidelines (40%).

Regarding the addition of Gen AI capabilities into existing vendors’ product areas, 38% affirmed their vendors have added Gen AI into productivity/collaboration tools, 26% marketing/sales, 25% CRM, and 25% security tools. The majority of ITDMs also say that these additions have resulted in some/strong positive impact, and they believe productivity, marketing/sales, and security would benefit from additional Gen AI capabilities.

Investing in the AI Future

Recognizing AI’s vast potential to enhance company operations and fuel growth, the majority of IT decision-makers remain enthusiastic about investing in these technologies. Three quarters are either actively researching or piloting AI initiatives, and when it comes to Gen AI specifically, a mere 8% expressed n********** (11% SMB vs. 5% enterprise). Currently, 36% of all ITDMs and 45% of enterprise IT leaders have dedicated budgets for AI projects, with 61% anticipating an increase in AI spending in 2024.

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The top five business objectives driving AI investments include improving employee productivity, enabling innovation, gaining a competitive edge, improving customer support or services, and developing new products or services. Reflecting the value of achieving these priorities, 44% of ITDMs agree that their organization is willing to pay more for AI-infused products from vendors.

As ITDMs work to enhance their understanding of how to integrate AI technologies for the greatest business benefits, technology vendors must keep customers informed on effective tool utilization and share their product roadmap. This will allow organizations to plan strategically for the integration of AI products and services into their organizations.

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