Over half of UK business leaders believe AI and ML will significantly amplify human potential

Over half of UK business leaders believe AI and ML will significantly amplify human potential

Workday reveals leaders are optimistic about how AI and ML will impact the future of work, but some uncertainty remains as only 13% of organisations are completely prepared.

Workday, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, has published its latest study examining how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will impact the future of work. The global C-Suite Global AI Indicator Report reveals that leaders know their organisations would benefit from AI and ML, but several factors are holding them back. Key UK findings include:

  • Optimism for AI and ML is evident with 73% of business leaders believing both will have an impact on the global business landscape in the next three years and 58% thinking they will significantly amplify human potential.
  • Worryingly, preparation levels are currently out of step with investment ambitions: While 46% of respondents said that more than 20% of their organisation’s annual technology budget is currently invested in AI and ML, only 13% of UK organisations reveal they are completely prepared to adopt them.
  • What’s more, trust in AI is relatively low with 46% of business leaders concerned about the trustworthiness of AI and ML.

 AI and ML: Not just hype 

CEOs and other business leaders know that their organisations will be impacted by AI and ML in the future, but some have been hesitant to fully embrace the technology. A large proportion (73%) said that the global business landscape will be affected in the next three years and seven-in-10 (70%) believe their organisation as a whole will be affected by AI and ML in the next three years. 

Nearly all (99%) CEOs surveyed said that there would be some immediate business benefit from implementing AI and ML, with the top benefits being increased productivity, data-driven decision-making and improved collaboration. Despite this, 42% of CEOs said their organisation is unprepared to adopt AI and ML as they lack some or all of the tools, skills and knowledge necessary to embrace these technologies, and 24% of CEOs want to wait to see how AI and ML affect their organisation before they decide on their approach.

So, what is holding them back?

Uncertainty about data, privacy and trust are holding CEOs and other business leaders back from fully embracing and adopting AI and ML. Almost half (46%) of all leaders surveyed said they were concerned about the trustworthiness of AI and ML, with 74% of CEOs citing potential errors as a top risk of AI and ML integration, reinforcing that lack of trust. 

Increased transparency is needed to build CEO trust, but siloed data is obscuring leaders’ ability to lean in. Over half (52%) of organisations surveyed reported that their data is somewhat or completely siloed. Only 4% of all respondents said their data is completely accessible. 

“With such a small fraction of UK respondents saying their data is completely accessible, it’s clear that an urgent shift in mindset is needed to ensure that the right people have access to the right information, as only when data is accessible can AI and ML truly deliver on its promise for companies,” said Daniel Pell, VP and UKI Country Manager, Workday. “Teams and organisations that have accurate and meaningful insights into their businesses will be able to make smarter decisions and ultimately, protect their bottom-line more than those who do not have this foresight.”

“With UK organisations collecting a widespread and large amount of data — about people, finances, operations and more — blending those data sources, making sure the information is accurate and turning them into actionable insights can be challenging. This is why having a single source of data which as a result, can be trusted, is vital,” said Clare Hickie, Chief Technology Officer, EMEA, Workday. “Defining clear use cases for such data which solves real business problems and addresses the foremost concerns of leadership can enhance a business’ competitiveness, elevate the employee experience and mitigate skills gaps through strategic partnerships with experienced collaborators.”

Despite uncertainty, leaders are optimistic 

Among CEOs, 28% are concerned that employees will struggle to keep up with rapid changes as AI and ML become more integrated into their organisation and 32% of both HR and finance leaders worry their teams will not have the technical skills they need to work effectively with AI and ML. 

While leaders have concerns about the immediate impact AI and ML adoption will have on employees, they are ultimately optimistic about the overall impact. Almost three-in-five (58%) of business leaders believe AI and ML will significantly amplify human potential and 44% of CEOs believe AI and ML will create a more equitable and diverse workforce. 

No time to wait

“Despite some uncertainty, leaders are optimistic that AI and ML will augment their workforce and drive productivity,” said Jim Stratton, Chief Technology Officer, Workday. “Trust is paramount to embracing these benefits and building trust requires the right data foundation and commitment to governance. By implementing trustworthy solutions that prioritise data quality and transparency, companies can reap the rewards of AI and ML across their organisation.”

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