Gen AI Investments to Increase, Despite Skills Gap Concerns

New research from software company Elastic finds Gen AI can boost enterprise productivity, but concerns over skills gaps and data security anxieties remain

Since Gen AI has taken the world by storm, decision-makers across myriad industries are keen to ramp up their investments. 

AI has already been proven to drive operational efficiency, enhanced productivity and faster decision-making. In fact, nearly half (44%) of global IT decision makers believe that search-powered generative AI (Gen AI) could save employees two days per week, according to new research from Elastic.

The report, The Elastic Generative AI Report: One Year On, Identifying the Impact and Challenges of Early Generative AI Implementation Worldwide, finds that most IT decision-makers are seeking to increase their investments in Gen AI throughout 2024.

Whilst nearly all (99%) currently recognise the transformative potential of enterprise Gen AI, Elastic warns that early adoption could result in challenges such as fears over privacy, security, AI regulation and internal skills gaps.

Facing reality: AI opportunities and risks

Across multiple regions and industries, Gen AI continues to be a key area of excitement, with budgets expected to increase over the next three years. 

More than half of respondents (62%) to the Elastic survey anticipate it will improve resource and operational efficiency and productivity, customer experience (61%), resulting in more accurate decision-making (51%).

“In a little more than 12 months, the disruptive potential of Gen AI has shifted from reverie to reality, capturing the imaginations and budgets of IT and data leaders,” says Matt Riley, GVP and General Manager of Search at Elastic. “While data may fuel this technology, search is the engine that powers its effectiveness. 

“Unsurprisingly, businesses that adopt search powered GenAI quickest - anchored by security and grounded by business context - will lead and uncover the insights needed to build more resilient businesses, accelerate innovation, and pioneer new customer experiences.”

However, despite early interest and planned investment, internal and external roadblocks threaten to slow adoption of the technology. The report cites fears surrounding the security and privacy of AI technology (44%), in addition to regulation issues (37%) and the ever-growing skills gap (40%) implementing in-house technologies.

Many organisations struggle to gain relevant insights from their data, which can result in what Elastic describes as “sluggish” decision-making. To combat these issues, plenty of businesses are seeking to upskill their workforces, in order to avoid costly errors and project failures.​​​​​​​

Conversational search could significantly advance productivity

Significantly, Elastic finds that nearly all of its respondents (97%) believe a conversational search experience would make their organisation more productive, with nearly half (45%) believing these capabilities could save their organisation an average of two days or more per week per employee.

Conversational search, like chatbots for instance, enable the user to establish a clear dialogue with AI and gain insights and advice faster. From a business perspective, it can also free up human employees to handle more complex tasks or customer queries.

Within a sophisticated IT threat landscape, Gen AI leads to an overall feeling that Gen AI is an effective solution to alleviate many challenges, including security blindspots and system improvements.

Many businesses feel Gen AI will benefit their observability postures, specifically to automate the analysis and categorisation of data (47%), enhance missing data handling (45%) and improve data masking and privacy (44%).

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