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Enterprise leaders feel pressured to implement more AI, but worry about skills gap, data accuracy, ethical use—and giving up decision-making power

by | Jul 17, 2023 | Public Relations

Although AI is just waiting to be implemented more deeply in enterprise operations, enterprise business leaders don’t appear as eager to embrace the tech fully as other CEOs have been reported to say they are. New global research from finance and HR enterprise cloud applications firm Workday finds that more than three-quarters (77 percent) of these leaders are feeling pressured to do so, and that their reluctance is based not only on other widely-reported concerns (skills shortage, data reliability, ethical application, etc.) but also, according to the vast majority, because they are wary of giving up too much decision-making power.  

The firm’s new study examines the state of AI in the enterprise, including the current perception among business leaders about the technology’s benefits, challenges, and opportunities—identifying widespread recognition of the potential for AI to transform enterprise business processes, as well as significant gaps in how to get there. 

Enterprise leaders feel pressured to implement more AI, but worry about skills gap, data accuracy, ethical use—and giving up decision-making power

Another key finding was that virtually all of the 1,000 decision makers surveyed agree that it’s important for humans to have oversight of AI or ML when making significant decisions. Nearly half (45 percent) believe AI and ML will benefit workers, augmenting workloads and creating new career paths. But 43 percent are more cautious, warning that AI and ML will replace some tasks, causing some displacement of workers—and a significant 12 percent are even more doubtful, saying that AI and ML will replace humans completely and have a negative impact on workers.

“Business leaders understand that AI and ML are critical to success in the future of work,” said Jim Stratton, chief technology officer at Workday, in a news release. “But enterprise organizations continue to lack the skills needed to implement the technology, and concerns around data integrity, ethics, and role elimination persist. Successful adoption of AI and ML require a commitment to keeping humans in the decision-making loop and working with partners who are committed to responsible AI and maintaining data integrity.”

Enterprise leaders feel pressured to implement more AI, but worry about skills gap, data accuracy, ethical use—and giving up decision-making power

Despite the case for AI adoption, concerns about ethics and data accuracy remain

More than 90 percent said they currently use AI within their operations for managing people, money, or both, and 80 percent agree AI and ML helps employees work more efficiently and make better decisions. The need for investment in this area is clear—80 percent of respondents agree that AI and ML are required to keep their business competitive.

Enterprise leaders feel pressured to implement more AI, but worry about skills gap, data accuracy, ethical use—and giving up decision-making power

But despite this broad agreement around the case for AI and ML in the enterprise, concerns remain about its accuracy, ethics, and security. In fact, 77 percent of respondents are concerned about the timeliness or reliability of the underlying data, 39 percent consider potential bias to be a top risk when considering AI, and 48 percent cite security and privacy concerns as the main barriers to implementation. Only 29 percent said they are very confident that AI and ML are being applied ethically in business right now, but they are more optimistic about the future—more than half (52 percent) say they are very confident it will be applied ethically in five years’ time.

Enterprise leaders feel pressured to implement more AI, but worry about skills gap, data accuracy, ethical use—and giving up decision-making power

Outlook for workers is optimistic, but new skills will be required

Business leaders are also considering AI’s impact on the workforce of today and tomorrow. While most agree it is critical for humans to be involved in AI decision making, the survey also found a critical skills gap to successful AI implementation. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents said their organization lacks the skills to fully implement AI and ML, and an even slightly higher percentage (76 percent) said their own knowledge of AI and ML applications needs improvement.

Enterprise leaders feel pressured to implement more AI, but worry about skills gap, data accuracy, ethical use—and giving up decision-making power

Read the full report here.

Summary of key findings:

  • 93 percent of business leaders believe humans should be involved in artificial intelligence decision-making.
  • 77 percent of respondents are concerned about the timeliness or reliability of the underlying data.
  • 29 percent said they are very confident that AI and ML are being applied ethically in business.
  • 73 percent of business leaders are feeling pressure to implement AI at their organizations.
  • 80 percent agree AI and ML helps employees work more efficiently and make better decisions.
  • 72 percent of respondents said their organization lacks the skills to fully implement AI and ML.

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

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