- Less than 1 in 3 executives believe their board of directors possess sufficient AI and ML knowledge, according to a Heidrick & Struggles survey published Oct. 19. The firm surveyed more than 200 top executives overseeing AI, ML and data analytics in the U.S. and Europe.
- More than 2 in 5 executives say they do not have adequate exposure to boards of directors, which indicates a potential disconnect between AI projects and senior company leadership.
- "Many executives are comfortable with the level of expertise in data and analytics, but once you cross over into AI and ML, that's where you get the big drop off in relevancy, deep expertise and knowledge," said Ryan Bulkoski, global head of Heidrick & Struggles’ Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Practice.
The enterprise mandate for CIOs into 2024 is clear: Capitalize on the accelerated development of technologies such as generative AI, and convert it into business growth.
Without sufficient AI knowledge and expertise at the board level, strategies become scattered, leading to a patchwork of deployments as different units leverage the technology, according to Bulkoski.
"If there isn't a board mandated AI strategy, it's left to be picked up by any number of functions," he said. "Which doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong: It just means that it may take you a little longer to figure out what your centralized approach to an AI strategy is."
A disjointed AI strategy is likely to result in tool duplication and wasted resources.
AI itself hasn't yet made a major impact on next year's tech spending forecast. The year-over-year growth in the $5 trillion global IT budget, according to Gartner projections, is largely due to cloud and software, two elements of the infrastructure that ultimately support AI.
As AI projects requiring new spending reach the board of directors, the onus is on CIOs to convey their importance to business strategy.
CIOs must think about AI projects as more than experimental proofs of concepts, and more like imperative components of the company's future growth potential, Bulkoski said.
The technology's business impact, Bulkoski said, will be critical to the success of their proposals.