CIOs will need a new strategy for AI risks and opportunities

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned that online misinformation and disinformation, generated by AI, is the top short-term risk facing countries. In its Global Risk report 2024, the WEF stated that AI also poses new risks to computer systems by allowing hostile states and hacking groups to automate cyber attacks, while in the longer term, dependence on AI for decision-making will create further risks.

There is also the risk of intellectual property theft, as the recent case brought by The New York Times against OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT and Microsoft, shows.

These risks need to be balanced with the immense opportunity open to enterprise IT decision-makers, that next generation AI systems like generative AI and large language models offer. The authors of the Accenture 2024 Technology vision report use the phrase “human-centric technologies” to describe a new era of technology-enablement powered by AI. In effect, software is designed in a way that adapts to the human user. An expert user will use software in a completely different way to someone who is less experienced. In terms of usability, software needs to be developed in away that makes any user productive, irrespective of their level of experience.

Usability and skills

When asked about how IT leaders buy this type of technology, Adam Burden, global lead for innovation at Accenture, said: “The buyer criteria is evolving. There’ll be an expectation that technology procured is able to adjust itself according to the user that it is interfacing with. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach anymore, but rather meeting you at the level where your people are.”

Buying this stuff is likely to become a necessity, as CIOs are finding it increasingly hard to source the highly skilled individual individuals they need to build AI-enabled enterprise software. Analyst Gartner’s latest spending forecast for 2024, shows that IT services will continue to see an increase in growth during the year. John-David Lovelock, distinguished vice-president analyst at Gartner notes that IT staff with the desired skill sets are moving towards technology providers as a preference for work. “This means that filling the tech skills gap is getting harder and harder,” he says.

It is highly likely that CIOs will need to use external IT contractors to fill the tech skills gap. What is interesting, according to Lovelock, is that this is leading to a return to big IT outsourcing contracts. This swings the balance of the role CIOs play in business away from implementations and deployment and more towards setting the technical direction for the business and being the coordinator with strategic IT providers.

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