Despite widespread uncertainty among C-suite executives about AI’s workings, 40% plan to leverage generative AI (GenAI), like ChatGPT, to address critical skill shortages.
The Kaspersky report of nearly 2,000 executives in Europe found 95% of respondents are actively discussing the maximization of GenAI integration, despite lacking a deeper understanding of its mechanics and data handling.
Amidst continuing recruitment challenges, GenAI has emerged as a solution to upskill and empower employees, with IT departments (25%), marketing teams (19%), and admin support (12%) seen bridging productivity gaps with this technology.
The study indicated GenAI presents fewer barriers, attracting senior leaders seeking to tackle business challenges, as it circumvents common adoption inhibitors like price and upskilling needs.
Despite concerns about sensitive data usage, 50% plan to automate routine employee tasks, while 44% intend to integrate it into their workflows for quicker administration.
However, skepticism persists among some leaders, with 26% likening GenAI to fleeting tech trends like Meta’s Threads app, predicting its transient dominance.
Nevertheless, the growing trend of employees automating tasks like email content generation (49%) indicates GenAI’s enduring impact on business operations.
The study reveals that from top to bottom, workers at every level are already using GenAI to automate mundane daily tasks. A reduction in administrative workload creates opportunities for upskilling and retraining to handle tasks that are currently under-resourced.
This approach however rests on the premise that employees automating administrative responsibilities with GenAI inherently possess the necessary skill sets to fill critical HR gaps. The findings indicate this situation poses a challenge that GenAI alone cannot resolve.
Also concerning was the finding that most respondents acknowledged their lack of knowledge in tools such as ChatGPT, yet they are willing to allow their employees to use it with almost no guidance or rules.
“For me, the most surprising finding from our study is the level of trust C-level executives are placing in a technology they openly admit they don’t fully understand,” explains David Emm, senior researcher at Kaspersky.
He says while there are clear advantages to employing GenAI, measures must be implemented to assist users.
“Without proper safeguards, as with any misused technology, it can quickly shift from an asset to a hindrance,” Emm cautions.
He adds while one might expect any integration strategy to be led from the top of an organization the study reveals the infiltration of GenAI across all levels is already well underway, and the C-suite is openly admitting they have no plans to establish a strategy anytime soon.
“This situation presents a double-edged sword,” he says. “While it allows employees to use groundbreaking technology in their daily tasks to free up time and potentially bridge critical skills gaps, the lack of overarching control creates security vulnerabilities that leaders must address.”
From Emm’s perspective, If GenAI is to serve as a solution to meet HR challenges, business leaders will need to collaborate closely not only with HR departments, but also with individual employees.
“This collaboration is crucial to ensure that the technology is used appropriately and for the right tasks,” he says. “The primary risk with GenAI is that there is still insufficient understanding of how it works.”
While on the surface it is a tool capable of generating content with a single click, its functionality relies on a continuous input of data.
This “feed the beast” dynamic introduces significant risks to businesses because, while teams might be innocently using these tools to improve productivity, once data enters a GenAI tool, it ventures beyond the confines of the business environment and can be exploited.
Emm says with AI infiltrating and spreading through businesses like wildfire before policies have been fully implemented, IT teams will be playing catch up with their security, just as was seen with the bring your own device (BYOD) trend a decade ago.
“Once Pandora’s Box is open, it’s very difficult to close, and once data has been innocently entrusted to AI platforms, no amount of retrofitted AI policy is going to restore that IP,” he says.