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A new study from Salesforce has revealed that AI and automation will be critical drivers for enterprise IT teams as they face the increasing demands of a turbulent macroeconomic environment.
The research, conducted between February and April 2023, involving 4,000 IT decision makers from North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Europe. It looked at the mindsets, top priorities and pain points of these leaders in today’s business environment and identified an urgent need for efficiency and productivity, with AI and automation at play.
The findings highlight the critical role machine intelligence, including generative AI, could play in streamlining IT operations in the near future.
As customer and business needs evolve, IT leaders charged with setting up stakeholders for future success race to better meet expectations while demonstrating value. However, the stakes are so high that nearly two-thirds (62%) of them find it difficult to meet business demands.
More worryingly, these numbers are only expected to grow, with 74% of respondents expecting demands to rise further over the next 18 months.
“IT departments continue to be asked to do more with less, cut costs, deploy products faster, and deliver better customer and employee experiences. So it’s critical for CIOs and IT leaders to focus on operational efficiency and process excellence,” said Param Kahlon, EVP and GM of automation and integration at Salesforce. “By doing this, teams will be more productive and achieve business success in the future.”
AI and automation come to the rescue
While AI and automation have been helping businesses for some time, current IT needs position the technologies squarely for mainstream adoption. In the survey, 78% of IT leaders said the role of AI in their organization is already clearly defined, with key applications being service operations optimization, new AI-enabled products, customer service analytics, and customer segmentation.
The respondents indicate that automation can save them an average of 1.9 hours per week per employee. They automate workflows including order management, IT operations management, IT services management, IT asset management, and customer service.
Generative AI, an important part of mainstream AI, is expected to be one of the biggest drivers of these applications, according to IT leaders. A separate investigation performed in March suggested that 57% of IT leaders viewed generative AI as a “game-changer” with the potential to improve both customer and employee experiences. The latest survey shows that sentiment has become stronger: 86% of IT leaders now expect generative AI to play a prominent role in their organizations in the near future.
Notably, a large majority of them even suggested that their staff and their business stakeholders have a clear understanding of how to use it effectively.
Reservations in AI and automation
While AI and automation are both on track to address the challenges facing IT teams, there are many reservations about them as well.
For example, the survey found that nearly 64% of IT leaders are concerned about the ethical implications of generative AI, while 62% remain wary of the potential impact on their careers. Similarly, automation was found to be related to obstacles, including security and privacy issues, compatibility of legacy systems, insufficient budget, competing priorities/lack of team capacity, and difficulty finding the right technology.
Currently, only 42% of IT leaders are satisfied with the state of automation in their organization. And 87% expect more investment in the area over the next 18 months.
Meanwhile IDC predictions global spending on AI will increase by 26.9% in 2023 alone.
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