AI Survey

Chief information officers (CIOs) worldwide are placing a heightened emphasis on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into their organizational frameworks, according to a Canva survey of more than 1,360 CIOs.

According to the report’s key findings, an overwhelming 94% of surveyed CIOs express intentions to ramp up their investments in AI technologies.

Despite this enthusiastic embrace of AI, 84% of respondents had trouble sorting through with the over-abundance of AI tools saturating the market – this inundation poses a significant hurdle for CIOs seeking to pinpoint the optimal solutions tailored to their specific requirements.

Moreover, the report highlights a pressing concern among nearly three-quarters (72%) of CIOs regarding the phenomenon of application sprawl within their organizations.

The proliferation of diverse AI applications exacerbates complexity and heightens security risks, prompting apprehension among IT leaders striving to maintain robust and manageable infrastructures.

“Managing multiple tools for different functions quickly becomes costly and cumbersome and introduces unnecessary risk,” says Bhautik Joshi, principal applied scientist, Gen AI at Canva. “Having to manage a sprawling IT estate also takes practitioners away from their company’s more significant digital transformation initiatives.”

He says IT leaders should evaluate end-to-end platforms that are scalable and flexible.

“Individual tools are evolving as quickly as AI and solution-centric platforms provide some degree of insulation from that churn,” Joshi says. “They need to understand which platforms cover the most use cases and roll out formal training to help their teams get versed in all things AI.”

Another noteworthy finding from the report pertains to the scarcity of IT personnel dedicated to training employees on AI technologies. Approximately two-thirds (64%) of CIOs surveyed acknowledged the dearth of sufficient staff to facilitate the upskilling of workforce members.

Joshi says after 15 months or so of significant AI investments and initial product rollouts, the market is saturated with an abundance of AI solutions.

“AI was meant to simplify our lives but the fragmentation has added even more confusion,” he says. “The overlap of AI-powered technologies and point solutions is increasing complexity for IT teams, preventing their colleagues from getting the most out of these game-changing tools.”

NextGen Cloud CEO Chris Starkey agrees the primary challenge for IT leaders will be navigating a saturated market of largely unproven solutions.

“There can be little doubt that AI will reshape the way industries and economies operate, but there remains a fair amount of uncertainty over how,” he says. “Quite possibly we’ll see start-ups and market disruptors being bold with AI, then we’ll see a flurry of acquisitions and fast following by the rest.”

He points out application sprawl is not new, but it is likely to be exacerbated by AI simply because more applications are being made available all the time.

“Perhaps not surprisingly the answer to how businesses can proactively address and manage the issue lies with AI,” he says.

Starkey adds in 2024, “anyone who is anyone” will be taking tentative steps with AI in non-critical parts of the business.

“Upskilling initiatives will become commonplace, equipping professionals with the necessary skills to navigate an AI-driven world,” he adds. “New skill sets will be required from everything from high level AI programming down to the physical construction and management of GPU datacenters.”

Joshi says CIOs need to explore integrating AI at a higher level: Where its capabilities transcend individual apps and features and create new integrated and seamless experiences.

From his perspective, education is key to proper use, meaning as AI increasingly becomes a part of daily workflows, IT leaders must invest in training to get their teams up to speed and start extracting the most value out of the technology.

“At Canva, we run our own AI/ML workshops to equip our team of 4,500 with an understanding of AI and machine learning technology and to educate them on best practices in our day-to-day work,” Joshi explains. “We’ve found this education is critical to avoiding pitfalls and achieving the efficiencies and productivity benefits promised by AI.”