Generative AI (GenAI) may have been decades in the making, but it is now having its moment, capturing the public imagination with its incredible creative abilities. Yet, for businesses, it's the potential for this new technology to revolutionise engagement with customers, data, and infrastructure that has them racing to harness GenAI.
The excitement is palpable. When we asked IT decision-makers earlier this year about their perceptions of the opportunities and risks associated with GenAI, three-quarters (75%) in the UK said they believe the impact of GenAI will be significant or transformative for their organisations. However, our research also uncovered an explicit acknowledgement that GenAI is complex and unfamiliar- we've never seen anything quite like it before. In response, many at the helm of businesses are struggling with tangible GenAI adoption, with 49% of UK IT decision-makers confessing their organisations are somewhat or very hesitant to leverage it.
While this hesitation is understandable, it's also true that now is not the time for equivocation. As Michael Dell himself has said, 'If you're not applying AI across your organisation and thinking deeply about reinvention, you're already behind'. But with 45% of decision-makers not regarding their IT teams as important business partners, how can IT get cut through and help business leaders overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of GenAI's promise? Here are three ways to encourage better cross-collaboration between business and IT teams and realise effective GenAI adoption.
Deliver knowledge with the technology
IT will ultimately be responsible for deploying GenAI solutions. Still, there is another, arguably more important role that IT must play - ensuring CXOs understand how the introduction of GenAI will affect day-to-day operations.
While there is no denying the need for speed in getting to grips with GenAI, there must be due consideration about the practicalities of integrating it with existing products, processes, and infrastructure. These evaluations will help determine if product upgrades are required and where teams should focus as they prepare existing data for ingestion and analysis. This is more the 'wheelhouse' of IT leaders, who should partner closely with CXOs to ensure the business at large understands the broader implications of GenAI on the IT ecosystem.
Similarly, it's not only leaders who will need IT consultation. Everyone in an organisation must understand how to use GenAI to enhance their work, how it might impact their jobs, and how to interact effectively with AI systems. And since GenAI adoption is a technology-led transformation in the business, IT is ideally placed to deliver the training and education necessary for successful GenAI adoption.
By educating users, IT can help an organisation embrace and understand new technologies and accelerate adoption, thereby increasing the potential to unlock innovation across teams and business units. With regular IT-led training, employees can gradually increase their usage of GenAI at the workplace and home. According to our GenAI Pulse survey, 46% of decision-makers in the UK already use GenAI once or more a day for work, and 64% use this technology at least once a day in their own time. One can only hope that the more time employees spend familiarising themselves with GenAI, the more confident they will feel in using it.
But that familiarity and confidence should sound a note of caution around complacency and the risk of 'Shadow AI'. Everyone from product engineers to HR should be able to use GenAI tools to get the business outcomes they need. However, it can compromise teams and leave organisations vulnerable when used without proper governance. Of course, IT should be instrumental in creating secure access and establishing explicit data protections for all within the organisation. However, every employee with access to these tools is a potential risk if not appropriately trained, so education on correct workflows will help reduce risk and protect precious data.
Embrace GenAI strategically
Every CXO assessing how to take advantage of GenAI should understand that, while the potential is enormous, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Each business unit within an organisation will have different goals and use cases that will, in turn, dictate the models and investment needed. Identifying those opportunities and rolling out the relevant GenAI solutions as part of a holistic strategy requires strong partnerships with IT right across the business. And as the organisation begins to reap the rewards, IT will be emboldened to look beyond simply enhancing internal processes and start building comprehensive plans for organisational innovation.
Looking at the bigger picture, our research shows that almost 6 in 10 global leaders worry that their organisation won't be relevant in the next 3-5 years. This is where IT can really come into its own and help steer business leaders in the right direction. GenAI's transformative potential is only possible when matched with the unique position and skillset of IT to enable it. The GenAI moment is also IT's moment: a chance to redefine what IT brings to the strategic table and demonstrate the value of a truly connected organisation with a committed investment in IT, tech solutions and innovation.
Demonstrate why data matters
While many see GenAI as a 'silver bullet', it is only as strong as the data that feeds it. The success of a GenAI model lives or dies on its data. Because of this, enterprises need a robust strategy that involves collecting, cleaning, and curating only the best data for their models. Organisations will find the most value if AI tools are connected to a vast swathe of internal data, allowing for more robust solutions that consider every conceivable information point and a more substantial data chain down the line. As such, data management practices within an organisation must be up to standard, which is best tackled collaboratively with IT at the helm.
Ensuring this means enacting standard documentation processes across teams, removing duplicate or incomplete records, and investing in modernisation storage infrastructure so that nothing falls between the cracks. While these steps can be time-consuming, especially if performed for the first time or on years' worth of information, the transition to working with GenAI will be seamless and, therefore, faster at producing legible, actionable results for the business in the long run.
Likewise, the placement of data—whether in the cloud, on-prem, or at the edge— really matters to the success of GenAI. IT can help an organisation consider the placement of data centres, on-prem and hybrid cloud services, and other locations for data storage, training, and processing. Where should enterprises train AI data models, and where to use the resultant algorithms? How much data do they need to process, and how much to retain? These questions have huge implications regarding cost, latency, and security, so IT teams must be part of the decision-making process.
The time to act is now
GenAI's transformative potential is clear. However, if a business fails to leverage IT's unique central position in the strategic planning and implementation process, it risks missing the mark on what's needed to remain competitive. For a comprehensive cross-team collaboration to be truly successful, IT should play an integral role in devising the strategic implementation plan. By collaborating with IT and looking at these solutions from all angles, organisations can transform their business and ensure long-lasting success.