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A new survey from Salesforce has revealed that AI and automation will be critical drivers for enterprise IT teams as they contend with growing demands of a turbulent macroeconomic environment.
The research, conducted between February and April 2023, involved 4,000 IT decision-makers from North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. It looked at these leaders’ mindsets, top priorities and pain points in current business conditions and found an urgent need to drive efficiencies and productivity, with AI and automation in 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 tasked with setting up stakeholders for future success are racing to better address expectations and at the same time demonstrate value. However, the stakes are so high that nearly two-thirds (62%) of them are finding it difficult to meet business demands.
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What’s even more worrisome is that these figures are only expected to grow, with 74% of the survey respondents expecting the demands to rise further over the next 18 months.
“IT departments continue to be asked to do more with less, save on 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,” Param Kahlon, EVP and GM of automation and integration at Salesforce, said. “By doing so, teams will be more productive and achieve business success moving forward.”
AI and automation to the rescue
While AI and automation have been helping businesses for quite 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 well-defined, with the top uses being service operations optimization, new AI-based products, customer service analytics and customer segmentation.
The respondents said that automation can save them an average of 1.9 hours every week per employee. They are automating workflows including order management, IT operations management, IT service management, IT asset management and customer service.
According to IT leaders, generative AI, a key part of mainstream AI, is expected to be one of the biggest driving forces behind these applications. A separate survey conducted in March suggested that 57% of IT leaders considered generative AI to be a “game-changer” with the potential to boost customer and employee experiences alike. The latest research shows that sentiment to have grown stronger, with 86% of IT leaders now expecting generative AI to play a prominent role in their organizations in the near future.
Notably, a vast majority of them even suggested that their staff and their business stakeholders have a clear understanding of how it can be effectively used.
Reservations about AI and automation
Even though AI and automation are both on track to address the challenges IT teams face, there are also many reservations associated with them.
For instance, the survey found that nearly 64% of IT leaders are concerned about the ethical implications of generative AI, while 62% remain wary of its potential impact on their careers. Similarly, automation was found to be associated with roadblocks including security and privacy concerns, compatibility of legacy systems, inadequate budget, competing priorities/lack of team capacity, and difficulty in finding the right technology.
As of now, just 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 forecasts global spending on AI to increase by 26.9% in 2023 alone.