As expected, the survey of almost 2,000 C-level execs across Europe reveals Gen AI to be firmly on the business agenda with almost all (95%) respondents regularly discussing ways to maximise value from the technology at the most senior level, despite 91% expressing a need to develop a deeper understanding of how it works and where the data goes once inputted.
With the major inhibitors to the adoption of new technology being price, uncertain return on investment (ROI), and the need to upskill, Gen AI offers much lower barriers which is attractive to senior bosses looking to solve critical business challenges. The findings show that, despite having concerns around the use of sensitive proprietary information used to power Gen AI tools, exactly half (50%) of the executives surveyed plan to automate mundane tasks undertaken by their employees on a daily basis, with a further 44% planning to integrate it into their own routines to expedite admin.
Amidst the highest level of recruitment challenges on record (according to data from the British Chamber of Commerce), the cost of filling all job vacancies in the UK in the first half of 2023 according to data from CIPD and the ONS amounted to an estimated £1.3 billion. Such are the concerns about filling roles, Gen AI is already being embraced as an effective, accessible way to upskill and empower employees, with C-level respondents revealing they believe IT departments (25%), marketing teams (19%) and admin support (12%) to be bridging productivity gaps with the technology.
“Whilst our research reveals that many CXO’s are worried about the risks of AI, the understanding and action being taken do not mirror this concern. The gap between implementation and action or understanding is the greatest risk for businesses,” explained David Emm, Principal Security Researcher, Kaspersky. “Gen AI offers a low barrier way to complete in a matter of minutes what have been resource-intensive tasks that require skills and experience. However, it is important to note that while teams might be innocently using these tools to improve productivity, once data enters a Gen AI tool, it ventures beyond the confines of the business environment and can be exploited. With AI infiltrating and spreading through businesses like wildfire before policies have been fully implemented, you can end up with a situation where IT teams are playing catch up with their security, just as we saw with the BYOD trend a decade ago. Once Pandora’s Box is open, it’s very difficult to close, and once data has been innocently entrusted to AI platforms, no amount of retrofitted AI policy is going to restore that IP.”
Some business leaders expressed scepticism about the technology and its future, with just over a quarter (26%) drawing parallels with short-lived technology such as Meta’s recently launched Threads app. These leaders stated that they believe Gen AI to be just another fad which ‘challenges for dominance quickly and then dies off just as fast’. Time will tell as to the long term impact on business operations, but with respondents revealing they believe employees are already automating everyday tasks such as generating email content (49%), it is clear that this latest technology trend is unlikely to be disappearing anytime soon.
Emm continues, "If there's a desire to delegate critical activities and functions to Gen AI, it is essential that senior management first develops a deeper understanding of the data management processes, including what data can and cannot be used to train these systems. While Gen AI brings clear business benefits, as with so many security challenges, education is key and collaboration with cybersecurity and risk experts will help to establish an environment where Gen AI can be used safely, securely and productively. But it’s not all bad news – Gen AI offers some truly marvellous business opportunities, like enhancing cybersecurity procedures. Businesses just need to make sure they don’t try to shut the door after the horse has bolted.”