Almost all CEOs see benefit of AI, but trust remains tricky

Business leaders across the world are optimistic about the potential impact of AI and ML despite concerns about trust and data accessibility, the latest study by Workday shows.

Workday commissioned a survey of 2,355 business leaders from the offices of the CEO, CIO, CHRO, and CFO. Respondents are located in North America (895), Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (860), and Asia-Pacific and Japan (600).

“Despite some uncertainty, leaders are optimistic that AI and ML will augment their workforce and drive productivity,” said Jim Stratton, CTO at Workday. 

“Trust is paramount to embracing these benefits, and building trust requires the right data foundation and commitment to governance,” said Stratton. “By implementing trustworthy solutions that prioritise data quality and transparency, companies can reap the rewards of AI and ML across their organisation.”

Findings show that CEOs and other business leaders know that AI and ML will impact their organisations, but some have been hesitant to fully embrace the technology. 

Seven in every 10 (71%) said the global business landscape will be affected in the next three years, and 64% believe their organisation as a whole will be affected by AI and ML in the next three years. 

Nearly all (98%) CEOs surveyed said 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, 49% of CEOs said their organisation is unprepared to adopt AI and ML as they lack some or all the tools, skills, and knowledge necessary to embrace these technologies, and 28% of CEOs want to wait to see how AI and ML affect their organisation before they decide on their approach.

Among CEOs, 30% are concerned that employees will struggle to keep up with rapid changes as AI and ML become more integrated into their organisation. 

In addition, 32% of HR leaders and 30% of 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 effect AI and ML adoption will have on employees, they are ultimately optimistic about the overall impact. 

Almost half (47%) of business leaders believe AI and ML will significantly amplify human potential, and 45% of CEOs believe AI and ML will create a more equitable and diverse workforce. 

Two in every five (39%) of CEOs believe increased productivity is the biggest potential benefit they see coming from AI, reinforcing the critical connection between technology and human potential. 

Uncertainty about data and privacy, and a lack of trust are holding CEOs and other business leaders back from fully embracing and adopting AI and ML.

Among respondents, 43% said they were concerned about the trustworthiness of AI and ML, with 67% 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 trust, but siloed data is obscuring leaders’ ability to lean in. 

Three in every five (59%) of organisations surveyed reported that their data is somewhat or completely siloed. Only 4% of all respondents said their data is fully accessible.