AI triggers tech anxiety for senior leaders, research shows

More than half plan to spend more on digital transformation to combat concerns
Kin + Carta report shows that 94% of business leaders globally suffer from tech anxiety, with worries including cyber security, AI and machine learning

An overwhelming majority of business leaders (94%) have admitted to ‘tech anxiety’ within their organisation’s senior leadership, according to a new study from global digital transformation consultancy Kin + Carta

This anxiety is on the rise as the pace of digital and technological change accelerates, and is prompting top executives to invest more in digital transformation.

‘Tech anxiety’ is defined as the feeling senior leaders have as a result of the rapid pace of advancements in technology that are causing concern when it comes to how their business operates. While the top source of that anxiety is cyber security (cited by 24% of respondents), close behind, and rounding out the top three, are concerns over AI and machine learning (19%), and anxieties about sustainability strategy and tracking (17%).

AI and machine learning investments seen as number one priority for global companies

Investment in AI and machine learning is seen as the number one priority among global companies, Kin + Carta found. 15% of leaders say they plan to invest in it this year, followed by cybersecurity on 12%. And three-quarters (75%) of leaders believe that further investment in digital transformation initiatives is necessary within the next 12 months to combat this anxiety. More than half (58%) plan to spend more in the coming year compared to previous years. 

The findings, collated into Kin + Carta’s 2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech report, showcase priorities and concerns from 800 senior business leaders in the US and UK, comprised of a mix of C-suite, senior VPs, VPs, directors and other key decision-makers in £800m+ turnover / US$1bn+ revenue organisations.

The report pinpoints how the accelerating pace of technology change in areas like AI, data and cyber security is causing sleepless nights for leaders across multiple business sectors – and why managing those developments and risks has moved to the top of the corporate agenda.

Kin + Carta’s research highlights that the potential disruption and ethical implications associated with AI and machine learning, in particular, are substantial. When it comes to specific concerns, the top three contributory factors are the speed of technological change (35%); the internal skills gap (29%); and access to the right talent (28%). 

“Overall, it appears that tech anxiety among leadership is primarily triggered by factors and technologies with the potential to significantly disrupt the established ways of working,” Richard Neish, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Kin + Carta, said. “We’ve all seen reports about the huge potential impact of AI, while previously we have seen cloud, mobile and indeed the birth of the world wide web completely alter the way businesses operate.

“There’s no doubt that technology is moving incredibly quickly, but concerns such as data trust and the internal skills gap can be managed, as long as businesses invest in the right areas.”

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