Ever since becoming a CIO nearly two decades ago, I’ve made it a point to network with or otherwise stay in touch with my peers at other companies and organizations. The knowledge sharing and open discussions we have about emerging technologies, IT best practices and the evolution of the role of IT within organizations has made me a better leader.
But lately, there are two letters that describe a technology that have brought about immense polarization. And that’s AI.
On the one hand, you have folks who have seen and realized the real game-changing impact AI can have on business. According to a global survey of 700 IT decision-makers across all different types of companies that Juniper recently completed, we found that the majority of those who’ve actually implemented AI say it’s given time back to employees, has made their employees happier and agree it’s positively influenced operational and end-user experience.
On the other hand, there are still many organizations and executives sitting on the sidelines – respondents who haven’t even dipped their toes into the AI waters.
Sometimes it feels like we’re not even talking about the same thing. So, if it’s such a beneficial technology, what are they waiting for?
The top three barriers to adoption that stood out in our survey revolved around:
- AI-Ready Technology Stacks – it can be prohibitively hard to sort through all of the technology upgrades needed throughout the stack to build a robust, cloud-based infrastructure necessary to process and manage quality data for enterprise-grade AI.
- Readying the Workforce – and even with the supporting tech in place, the struggle to prepare and expand one’s workforce to integrate with AI systems and take advantage of emerging data sources can have a chilling effect on pursuing it.
- AI Governance – but don’t forget the oversight. The cross-functional and executive involvement in the monitoring and mitigation of reputational, operational and financial risk associated with AI is critical – and yet, another organizational barrier to hurdle – if one wishes to successfully deploy AI.
Personally, I find myself at the intersection of these concerns, including industry conversations around AI security, hiring, ethics and more. Will AI take jobs away from humans? How can we get past bias in data? What really are the benefits of AI to organizations?
The thing about AI and humans is they are better together – to me, it’s not about “either/or”, it’s about “both/and.”
While these are all serious questions businesses need to consider before determining their own strategies, AI is proving to have the incredible potential to relieve employees from mundane, routine tasks so they can focus on additional value-add activities, leading to both increased speed of organizational output and heightened employee satisfaction. AI is also leading to job creation – though these jobs require different skills than the ones at risk for replacement by automation.
As consumers, we have been quick to knowingly accept and reap the benefits of AI and machine learning in our personal lives – think automatic re-routing on Waze when driving or Alexa being programmed to turn on the lights at home when asked. Sometimes, AI also works its magic unknowingly, like when a doctor prescribes a certain treatment based on an AI tool’s diagnosis.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding the technology are giving way to excitement, optimism and proven outcomes for organizations. In fact, almost 2/3 of the organizational leadership surveyed noted that AI is a top priority for their 2021 strategic plans.
Like any technology going through the peaks of optimism and valleys of disillusionment, the pros and cons must be weighed with diligence.
As we drive toward a future where the user experience has become paramount for how we integrate and utilize technology of all kinds, AI is a critical tool to realizing and building the digital workforce of tomorrow. We must coalesce as an industry around simplifying IT infrastructure, implementing actual AI training and putting correct AI governance in place as we charter into new territory.
For the full findings, please download the report here: Juniper Networks – AI is Set to Accelerate – Is Your Organization Ready?