Global CIO AI Indicator Report: A Four-Point Plan to Level Up

Our report finds that technology leaders everywhere face similar challenges, and highlights how one type of CIO—the “AI Pioneer”—is leading their organization into the best possible future with artificial intelligence.

The authors of our “Global CIO AI Indicator Report: Leading Your Organization into the AI-Enabled Future” sum up the current business technology landscape nicely: “In times of change, great possibilities often come with great pressures.” 

Nowhere is this more true than in the office of the CIO. Now that AI is no longer just a glimmer on the horizon, business leaders (especially CEOs) are looking to technology leaders to turn the promise of AI into tangible business results. 

As the pace of technological innovation accelerates, the “Global CIO AI Indicator Report,” conducted with FT Longitude, makes the case that CIOs and IT leaders must seize the moment with AI. The promise, the report authors write, is that the findings (based on a survey of 640 IT leaders) can shape the strategies and decisions of those at the helm of this transformation.

Leading the Way

When it comes to AI, one thing is clear: IT leaders will most likely be the ones expected to make a company’s AI deployment a success. As you can see from the chart below, 35% of respondents worry that IT will be under pressure to make the difficult decisions about where to apply AI and machine learning (ML), even if they don’t have the domain expertise to make those decisions.

The good news is that IT is already leading on the adoption front, which means CIOs likely have more insight and experience with AI deployments than anyone else in the C-suite. In fact, whether they’re piloting, rolling out, or at a mature stage of deployment, 68% of IT leaders say their organization is already using AI and machine learning (ML), a bigger number than our finance and HR respondents reported.

AI Pioneers: The Heroes We Deserve

When it comes to those who are creating the most value from their AI deployments, look no further than the AI Pioneers—a group of leaders who are particularly advanced in their digital maturity journey compared to the overall sample. 

Our research finds a correlation between the level of an organization’s AI maturity and the benefits it’s realizing, and this advanced cohort (the top 33%) is working faster and more efficiently, and finding more opportunities to reduce risk and deliver significant strategic value to the business. What’s more, AI Pioneers are more hopeful about how AI will augment, not replace, workers, and are more welcoming of AI into their organization (see chart below).

For IT leaders especially, it’s worth noting a majority of this cohort has solved their “data dilemma,” and say that their organization’s data is accessible, compared to 41% of organizations overall. Perhaps as a result of this, 58% of AI Pioneers say AI and ML will enable them to deliver more strategic value to their organization, compared to 48% of IT leaders overall.

If there was ever a time that called for action that’s both unusually thoughtful and strikingly bold, that time is now.

The Fantastic Four (Opportunities)

By triangulating what AI Pioneers are doing right, the strengths of IT leaders, and the main concerns reported by CIOs, the data points to four big opportunities for CIOs:

  • Innovating business operations.
  • Upskilling and empowering IT teams to deploy AI and ML.
  • Seizing the moment to get data in order.
  • Becoming an agent of change for the organization.

These opportunities might extend beyond the traditional remit of IT leaders. But with a technology that promises to reshape the future of work, if there was ever a time that called for action that’s both unusually thoughtful and strikingly bold, that time is now.  

As the report concludes: “IT faces an unprecedented opportunity to be an agent of change in the organization—to shepherd the company into an uncertain, but incredibly promising, future. It’s a tall order for any IT department, but it also underscores the major opportunity that underlies each of the four we’ve discussed so far in this report: the opportunity to take the entire business somewhere it’s never been.”

Get your four-point plan to level up here: “Global CI AI Indicator Report: Leading Your Organization into the AI-Enable Future.”

For insight into the other parts of the C-suite and first-mover advantage, download “C-Suite Global AI Indicator Report: AI Is the Ultimate Level-Up.”

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