Anticipation, skepticism, fear—what execs really think about AI

by | Oct 26, 2017 | Marketing, Public Relations

For nearly two years, artificial intelligence has been one of the most hyped fields to hit modern business. A new study from CITE Research, sponsored by SugarCRM, aims to detect how the relentless news cycle is affecting business executives—and whether or not they view AI as imminent and beneficial to their organization.

The study found that AI is seen as potentially helpful, but there is also a lack of confidence in the technology. Many anticipate using AI in their organization in the next two years, see its value and are hopeful it can help with various everyday tasks. On the other hand, more than half have security concerns about AI, and four in 10 fear the technology will make errors.

“The results of this survey reflect the industry’s view on the cloud, big data and other disruptive technologies over the years,” said Clint Oram, CMO and co-founder at SugarCRM, in a news release. “You have a group that is ready to jump in with both feet and a group of naysayers who are absolutely against the technology. The rest of us are in the middle.”

Anticipation, skepticism, fear—what execs really think about AI

“Many have heard all the hype and are intrigued, but they would like some assurances that the positives will outweigh the negatives before they are ready to start spending money on AI tools,” added Oram. “Clearly, we are still very early in the AI adoption curve.”

Anticipation, skepticism, fear—what execs really think about AI

The results of the survey are part of SugarCRM’s larger “SalesTech Survey,” which was conducted to define what the technology stack for a modern sales team looks like. AI-focused survey highlights include:

  • The majority of respondents (63 percent) plan to use AI in their organization in the next two years. However, almost one-quarter (23 percent) are unsure they will. A minority (15 percent) said they will definitively not.
  • U.S. participants said they are more likely to deploy AI (69 percent vs. 57 percent of U.K. participants). U.S. participants are more likely than U.K. participants to say they would want AI to help with communication with customers (54 percent) or planning their day (46 percent).
  • When asked about AI-related technologies, respondents rate machine learning, voice-capable intelligent digital assistants, and natural language processing as potentially “very helpful.” They rated customer service chatbots as “somewhat helpful.”
  • Top concerns about AI revolve around trusting the technology. More than one-half say they worry about data security, with 30 percent saying it is their top concern. Another 40 percent say they fear AI technology will make errors, and 41 percent fear losing control over the data.
  • While 30 percent said they fear job loss because of AI, only 12 percent list it as their top concern.
  • In general, the survey showed that younger participants, those 34 or younger, are more excited and less fearful of AI. Younger participants are more likely to say their organization will utilize it in the future (70 percent). Those respondents 55 or older are more likely to worry about being overwhelmed with features they do not need. (Fifty-five percent list this as a concern compared to 24 percent of those aged 18-54.)

Read the complete report here.

Anticipation, skepticism, fear—what execs really think about AI

CITE Research, on behalf of SugarCRM, conducted a survey among 400 business professionals, with 200 respondents in the United States and 200 respondents in the United Kingdom. Respondents were screened to be employed full time, work in sales or business development, and have a job title of director-level or above. All respondents worked at companies with 100 or more employees.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter