State of IT report: Generative AI will soon go mainstream, say 9 out of 10 IT leaders

However, new research shows that two-thirds of leaders surveyed worry about ethics and career impacts.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer

Data proliferation and business demand prompt new approaches to app development. 

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Nearly 9 out of 10 IT leaders believe generative AI will have a prominent role in their organizations in the near future, according to the State of IT report from Salesforce.

For the third edition of the State of IT report, Salesforce surveyed more than 4,000 IT decision-makers worldwide to learn more about shifting priorities and success metrics; the role of automation and AI; perspectives on security threats; and tactics used to address sustainability, ethics, and diversity concerns. Here is the executive summary of the State of IT report: 

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  • IT recalibrates for a new business and technology landscape. Teams are being challenged to keep up with shifting KPIs, changing business needs, technological evolution, and economic pressure. Sixty-two percent of IT departments have trouble meeting business demands. 
  • AI and automation underpin efficiency and innovation. Process automation is on the rise as businesses tighten their belts and seek efficiency boosts, while advances in AI prompt IT to determine how -- not if -- to responsibly propel their organizations forward. Eighty-six percent of IT leaders believe generative AI will have a prominent role in their organizations in the near future.
  • Data proliferation and business demand prompt new approaches to app development. Developers are turning to tactics like composability and low-code tools as they struggle to keep up with the demand for app development and integration. Only 26% of IT departments can support all app development requests, and only 29% of apps are integrated.
  • IT gets serious about building a better world. As the planet warms, ethical concerns come to the fore, and the marginalization of underrepresented groups comes under scrutiny, IT is increasingly doing its part to build better, more sustainable operations. Seventy-nine percent of IT leaders say their organizations have set greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
  • As threats rise, so do security investments.  With more -- and more sensitive -- data required to meet elevated business and customer demands, IT must protect an ever-expanding attack surface. Meanwhile, companies are taking compliance to heart as regulations strengthen. Sixty-seven percent of IT leaders have trouble balancing business and security objectives.

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Here are the top 13 key statistics found in the State of IT report: 

  1. The demand for IT services is growing. Eighty-four percent of IT leaders say their departments need to better address changing customer expectations. And 82% of IT leaders say their departments need to better demonstrate business value.
  2. The primary focus areas for IT are resilience and efficiency. Sixty-two percent of IT leaders have trouble keeping up with demands from the business. 
  3. IT performance metrics are focused on return on investments. Only 35% of IT leaders say their performance metrics are completely aligned with those of other departments. The five IT metrics are: 1. project ROI, 2. project speed, 3. customer satisfaction/experience, 4. employee satisfaction/experience, and 5. sustainability. 
  4. These are the top IT challenges: 1. security threats, data integrity/quality, 3. mismatch of IT and business, 4. budget constraints, and 5. changing business requirements. 
  5. Artificial intelligence becomes mainstream. According to McKinsey, 50% of organizations used AI in 2022. IDC is forecasting global AI spend to increase a staggering 26.9% in 2023 alone. A recent survey of customer service professionals found adoption of AI had risen by 88% between 2020 and 2022. Customer Service leads AI use cases with organizations with AI using it in the following ways: service operations optimization (24%), new AI-based products (20%), customer service analytics (19%), customer segmentation (19%), AI-based product enhancements (19%), customer acquisition and lead generation (17%), contact center automation (16%), and product feature optimizations (16%). 
  6. Generative AI has only recently become mainstream. The report shows 86% of IT leaders believe generative AI will have a prominent role it their organization in the near future. Yet 64% of IT leaders are concerned about the ethics of generative AI, and 62% are concerned about its impacts on their careers.
  7. Ethics and generative AI focus on accuracy, bias, toxicity, safety, and privacy. In a recent survey of IT leaders, concerns around generative AI included security risks (79%), bias (73%), and its carbon footprint (71%).
  8. Automation is a focus in the pursuit of efficiency. Eighty-seven percent of IT leaders expect more investment in automation at their organizations over the next 18 months. The key focus areas for automation include: order management, IT operations management, IT service management, IT asset management, customer service, DevOps and release management, customer onboarding, employee onboarding, and HR processes. 
  9. Automation's return on investment is broad. IT departments using automation report an average of 1.9 hours saved per week per employee. The top benefits of automation are: operational efficiency (56%), employee productivity (52%), customer satisfaction (49%), job satisfaction (44%), decreased costs (39%), more focus on high-value work (39%), competitive differentiation (36%), ability to scale (35%), and fewer support tickets (26%). 
  10. IT departments report an array of challenges to consider when determining how, where, and to what extent to embed automation. Only 42% of IT leaders are completely satisfied with the state of their organization's process automation. The top IT challenges include: security and privacy concerns, compatibility of legacy systems, inadequate budgets, competing priorities/lack of team capacity, and difficulty finding the right technology.
  11. IT departments are embracing low-code and no-code solutions to address growing demand. IT departments are struggling to keep up with soaring demand for application development, with only about one-quarter (26%) of them able to support all requests. In pursuit of more efficient development, low-code and no-code tools are now commonplace, with 77% of IT departments using them. And 46% of IT departments have composable design strategies now, and an additional 43% have plans to implement them within 18 months.
  12.  Integration is mission-critical as apps and data proliferate. The estimated number of applications across a typical enterprise (2021: 843, 2022: 976, and 2023: 1,061) has soared by 26% in just two years as organizations strive to meet rising standards for real-time, highly-personalized digital experiences. Considering that 72% of customer interactions are now digital, the experiences customers and employees expect often depend on reconciling, connecting, and harmonizing data from various sources. Today, 88% of IT leaders view system/application integration as critical for both customer and employee experiences.
  13. The impact of siloed structures and poor integration is costing the enterprise millions of dollars per year. The impacts are varied and drastic, with increased costs being the number one consequence reported by survey respondents. Enterprise IT leaders estimate spending an average of $4.7M per year on custom integration efforts -- a whopping 31% higher than their estimate of $3.6M in 2022. And, 80% of IT leaders say integration challenges slow down digital transformation initiatives.

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To learn more about the State of IT research, including the rising threats and investments in security solutions, you can visit here.

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