Editor’s Question: How can the CIO role adapt to advances in AI?

Editor’s Question: How can the CIO role adapt to advances in AI?

How can the CIO role adapt to advances in AI?

Chase Doelling, Principal Strategist, JumpCloud

Chase Doelling, Principal Strategist, JumpCloud

Advances in AI have prompted the need for CIOs to adapt on two fundamental fronts: external and internal.

Externally, the CIO role is increasingly shaped by the rapid pace of AI innovation and its potential to accelerate customer outcomes.

As AI tools and capabilities mature, the timeline from ideation to execution continues to shrink. CIOs constantly need to evaluate not only AI’s potential as more use cases are developed but also the new set of tools supporting them.

But this speed of innovation also brings a formidable challenge on the security front as bad actors leverage AI to devise more sophisticated cyberattacks. It raises the critical question for CIOs: when will AI outsmart their most vulnerable attack vector – their employees?

Internally, CIOs stand to benefit significantly from AI-Driven tools and technologies that boost productivity through automation. What becomes critical for CIOs is deploying these while ensuring no impact on the organization’s security posture. We’ve seen how data given to public models opens up new, unexpected threats. For example, when Samsung uploaded proprietary data into OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

CIOs need to be confident that the data required to capture the value of AI is handled securely and responsibly.

Another critical consideration for CIOs around AI is assessing the ROI of AI investments. Adding new AI products to specific departments may yield substantial benefits, but CIOs must consider the implementation time required to turn the “Dream” of AI guidance into a tangible reality. Different departments will see different results, forcing the question—will another tool to another department reap the same benefits? AI products will require increased scrutiny from CIOs around whether they are riding on the coattails of AI giants or if they genuinely add value to an organization. It is crucial to differentiate between genuinely transformative solutions and those offering a superficial layer of branding.

CIOs must navigate the delicate balance between harnessing AI’s potential for innovation and productivity while mitigating the evolving threats in the cybersecurity landscape. They must scrutinize new AI products and technologies to ensure they provide genuine value and adhere to stringent security and data protection standards. The CIO’s ability to adapt and effectively incorporate AI into their organization’s strategy will be a defining factor in their (and their organization’s) success.

Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi

Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies continue to be developed and deployed across virtually every industry vertical in companies of all sizes, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) must evolve to help ensure that their organizations are well-equipped to benefit from these powerful tools.

From a technical standpoint, CIOs will need to be ready to spearhead major infrastructure overhauls to support the massive scale of data and computing power required for a performant AI pipeline, particularly unstructured data which already makes up the bulk of most organization’s data assets and is only predicted to grow in data dominance. This will likely involve rearchitecting systems to store, manage, and analyze petabytes of data.

As valuable unstructured company data lives in a variety of locations in the data centers and in the cloud, it will also require implementing advanced unstructured data management platforms with analytics and automation capabilities that can process these immense datasets in real-time to deliver actionable insights, and ensure data is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. These systems must support identifying which unstructured data should be used for training the ML model and which shouldn’t. With the advent of GenAI, the generated data should be tagged as well since it is probably not desirable to use that data in future ML training cycles.

Beyond technology, another critical part of the CIO’s role in enabling AI/ML adoption is facilitating effective cross-departmental communication and collaboration. As AI/ML projects often cut across multiple business units, CIOs must be able to break down silos and foster cooperation between teams like data science, IT, marketing, operations, and more. Regular inter-departmental meetings and joint planning sessions can help ensure all stakeholders are aligned on goals and timelines. Collaboration platforms that provide transparency into ongoing work can help avoid duplication of efforts. By promoting interaction and partnership across functions, CIOs can help their organizations develop integrated, enterprise-wide AI/ML strategies that deliver value company-wide rather than just in isolated business areas.

And finally, CIOs must be ready to advise executive leadership and individual business units on developing AI/ML solutions that create tangible business value rather than simply adopting technology for technology’s sake.

The CIO role is evolving from purely technical implementation to include guiding business transformation. Those CIOs who can empower their companies to fully realize AI/ML’s benefits through scalable platforms, strong governance, and collaborative leadership will set their businesses up for success in the future.

Don Boxley, CEO and Co-Founder, DH2i

Don Boxley, CEO and Co-Founder, DH2i

CIOs that wish to ensure not only that they are able to adapt to advances in AI but their organizations are able to as well should consider doing the following:

  • Foster a culture of innovation: AI’s success depends on the active involvement of employees who grasp its potential, aren’t afraid of being replaced by it and are open to experimentation. CIOs can cultivate an innovative atmosphere by encouraging staff to think creatively and explore new AI applications
  • Invest in AI education: While not everyone needs to be an AI expert, everyone should have a basic understanding of AI’s capabilities and potential uses. CIOs can provide AI education through training programs, workshops and other learning resources. Again, part of this effort should be directed at providing the workforce with the education necessary to embrace its ability to enhance capabilities and make work life easier while alleviating any concern about being replaced by it
  • Establish ethical guidelines: As AI advances, it’s crucial to establish ethical standards for its deployment. CIOs can collaborate with their organizations to develop guidelines that adDress concerns like privacy, bias and safety
  • Monitor AI’s impact: Keeping a close eye on how AI is being used within the organization is vital. This involves tracking its usage, its effects on employees and customers and any potential risks or challenges that may arise
  • Adaptability is key: AI is continuously evolving, so CIOs must be ready to adapt to changes. This includes staying informed about the latest AI developments and being open to modifying how AI is integrated into their organization when necessary.

From application availability to data security and beyond, AI has the potential to significantly enhance virtually every IT and business function.

By implementing the strategies outlined above, CIOs can help to ensure their organizations are well-prepared to harness AI’s advantages while effectively managing any potential concerns or risks.

CIOs who are prepared for this inevitable evolution will position their organizations and themselves for future success.

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