AI enthusiasm tempered by lack of understanding and preparedness

A recent study of senior key decision makers in the UK & Ireland has revealed that a strong enthusiasm for generative AI (GenAI) is being tempered by a lack of strategic planning and understanding, concerns around data privacy and security, as well as a lack of preparedness to comply with regulations and establish a governance framework.

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The study, conducted earlier this year by Coleman Parkes Research Ltd. and commissioned by SAS, surveyed 200 UK & Ireland GenAI strategy and data analytics decision-makers to pulse check major areas of investment and the hurdles organisations are facing around the technology.

It asked questions about organisations’ current plans to deploy GenAI, how the technology is integrated into their strategic planning, and what challenges they are facing. Find out more by reading the report entitled Generative AI Challenges and Potential Unveiled: How to Achieve a Competitive Advantage.

The study found six in 10 organisations (62%) have begun to implement GenAI, including 9% that have fully integrated the technology at an enterprise level, indicating a strong desire to harness its capabilities after it shot to prominence when ChatGPT launched in 2022.

Of those organisations to adopt GenAI, a high number report seeing significant benefits from the technology already. A large majority, 96%, report improved employee experience and satisfaction, 90% say that they are saving on operational costs, and 94% state that customer retention is higher.

The study also revealed if companies haven’t yet implemented GenAI, then they are planning to, with the vast majority (90%) planning to invest in GenAI for 2024/25, and almost one in five planning to roll it out at enterprise level.

But this enthusiasm for the capability of GenAI and what it can achieve for businesses, is being hampered by a lack of understanding – with 96% of senior decision-makers admitting that they do not fully understand GenAI or its potential impact on business processes.

SAS’ study also found that less than one in 10 organisations in the UK & Ireland (8%) has undergone the preparation needed to comply with GenAI regulations, while 95% lack a comprehensive governance framework for GenAI.

Three-quarters of decision makers admit they are concerned about data privacy (75%) and security (72%) when it comes to using the technology, and fewer than one in 20 organisations (4%) provide a high level of training on GenAI governance and monitoring. Furthermore, almost eight in 10 organisations (77%) are not able to continuously monitor their GenAI systems.

Speaking on the findings, Dr Iain Brown, Head of Data Science at SAS Northern Europe, said; “It’s good to see that decision-makers in the UK and Ireland recognise that GenAI can drive innovation, new conversational experiences, and operational efficiency but the findings indicate that many businesses have not fully prepared to successfully deploy it.

“Firms are encountering difficulties with implementation too and all these issues threaten to waste resources, reduce competitiveness and even render them legally non-compliant. Businesses need to spend significant time developing a progressive GenAI strategy that ensures integration, governance and explainability. We are looking forward to supporting our customers in these areas and we know our technology can accelerate their journey to trustworthy GenAI.”

The SAS study sets out a number of recommendations that organisations should follow to successfully deploy GenAI, including the four steps below:

Strategic deployment

Comprehensive governance

Technological integration

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