Databricks & MIT Technology reveal how workforces use AI

A report by MIT Technology Review and Databricks surveys how companies are leveraging data and generative AI adoption for business growth and flexibility

MIT Technology Review and Databricks have released a report exploring opportunities for businesses to leverage data and generative AI to deliver growth.

The report, ‘Laying the foundation for data- and AI-led growth’ reveals technology leaders’ attitudes and predictions concerning the adoption of generative AI. It has found that ‘transformative AI’ will lead to a 25% increase in efficiency, according to 81% of technology executives surveyed.

In addition, nearly half of the technology leaders surveyed (46%) expect to increase their AI budgets by more than 25% in the next year. This news follows an August 2023 MIT study that highlighted how CIOs are moving positively towards AI and adopting more generative AI tools as part of their strategies.

Privacy and security larger concerns within the workplace

Produced in partnership with Databricks, MIT’s report is based on a global survey of 600 CIOs, CTOs, CDOs and technology leaders for large public and private sector organisations and features in-depth interviews with C-level executives.

Some of the organisations represented are ADP, Condé Nast, Databricks, Dell Technologies, General Motors, Starbucks and the US Transportation Security Administration.

Findings from the report also uncover that 60% of respondents say that a single governance model for data and AI is ‘very important’ and only 14% of EMEA CIOs listed job displacement as one of their top concerns. It charts a shift from being concerned about losing jobs to AI to instead viewing privacy and security (52%), compliance (40%), transparency and accountability (34%) as top concerns.

Rather than worrying about AI, executives are expecting AI adoption to be transformative at least in the short term. A majority (81%) of survey respondents expect AI to boost efficiencies in their industry by at least 25% in the next two years, with one-third stating that the gain will be at least 50%.

“With data and AI at the forefront of innovation, our report underscores the commitment of C-suite executives to steer toward a transformative future,” says Laurel Ruma, global director of custom content for MIT Technology Review. “Strategic investments, consolidation efforts, and dedication to governance and democratisation of AI are not merely choices; they are imperatives for success.”

The report instead suggests that talent and skills gaps overshadow organisations’ other data and AI challenges, with the largest share of respondents (39%) stating that investing in talent and upskilling the workforce is how their company’s strategy needs to improve. 72% say that it will be very important to encourage innovation that will help them to attract and retain talent.

Greater AI adoption as companies boost investments

CIOs are also deciding to invest more into data and AI, according to the report, as technology leaders need their data and AI assets to deliver more growth to their businesses than ever before. Every organisation surveyed will be boosting their spending on modernising data infrastructure and adopting AI during the next year and for nearly half (46%), the budget increase will exceed 25%.

As generative AI spreads, it looks as though companies are preferring to be more flexible with the software. 88% of surveyed organisations are using generative AI, with 26% investing in and adopting it, and another 62% experimenting with it. However, the majority (58%) are taking a hybrid approach to developing these capabilities, using vendors’ large language models (LLMs) for some use cases and building their own models when IP ownership, privacy, security and accuracy requirements are tighter.

‘‘These findings indicate that investments in generative AI are no longer optional for business success - and leaders across the globe have firmly taken notice,’’ said Samuel Bonamigo, SVP and GM EMEA at Databricks. 

‘‘Particularly in EMEA, we are not only seeing increased lakehouse adoption across the board, but also a high degree of AI optimism from executives - for instance, 63% of EMEA CIOs were “very optimistic” about the business value that AI could bring to their organisations within two years. 88% of organisations are already investing and adopting generative AI. It’s clear that this momentum is showing no signs of slowing.’’

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