Over half of IT leaders feel pressure to implement AI

Asana, a work management platform, has released new data from its State of the IT Leader report, which surveyed 1,255 IT professionals across the US and UK. The report delves into the challenges IT leaders face today, offering actionable insights for navigating intelligent transformation – demonstrating how to leverage AI to drive business outcomes and increase ROI.

As AI Becomes a Bigger Focus for Businesses, IT Leaders Play a More Strategic Role

As AI rapidly evolves into an essential asset for enabling enterprises to enhance their operational efficiency, IT leaders are transitioning from traditional back-end roles to becoming pivotal strategic influencers within their organisations. This shift reflects in various dimensions:

  • 55% of IT leaders experience pressure from their organisation's higher-ups to deploy new AI technologies. However, 25% express regret over hastening into AI investments, suggesting that the rush driven by business demands may compromise the thoroughness of AI implementations.
  • An overwhelming 90% of IT leaders believe that investing in AI is crucial for overcoming future business hurdles, underscoring the necessity of meticulous implementation strategies.
  • More IT leaders are now frequently involved in shaping their organisation's AI strategy (53%), operational advisories (37%), and strategic planning (35%) than they were six months ago, indicating their growing influence in decision-making processes.
  • With the integration of AI technologies like chatbots and virtual assistants into core business functions, 78% of IT executives and 72% of IT managers anticipate an expansion in their roles to encompass the oversight of AI agents.
  • A significant 82% of IT leaders find themselves consulting on organisational strategy at least monthly, with 31% of this group providing advice multiple times a week or even daily.

Emerging Challenges with New AI Responsibilities

The evolution of IT leadership from managing conventional IT tasks to spearheading strategic business innovation introduces several challenges, including:

  • Adapting to AI Innovation: The rapid advancement of AI-driven automation emerges as a primary concern for IT leaders, with 45% reporting stress related to this issue on a weekly basis.
  • Resource Limitations: Despite AI's prioritisation, only 37% of IT leaders report that their organisations have dedicated budgets for AI initiatives.
  • Optimising Technology Stacks: Around 24% of IT executives prioritise refining their technology stacks within the next six months, with 44% regretting excessive new software acquisitions recently.
  • Data Preparedness for AI: The success of AI significantly relies on data quality, yet only 39% of IT leaders are highly confident in their internal data's readiness for AI applications.

Discrepancy in AI Adoption Expectations

A noticeable gap exists between the enthusiasm of leaders and their teams towards AI adoption, highlighting the importance of establishing internal guidelines and thoughtful AI deployment strategies:

  • While 53% of IT leaders view investing in AI/ML technologies as critically important, only 35% of individual contributors share this sentiment.
  • 31% of IT leaders prioritise effective AI technology implementation within the next six months, in contrast to just 18% of individual contributors.
  • AI-driven automation is identified as a top challenge by 28% of IT leaders, yet only 16% of IT professionals concur.

Saket Srivastava, CIO at Asana, commented: “With the rapid evolution of AI, the role of the CIO and IT executives has fundamentally changed,” says Saket Srivastava, Asana CIO. “Today’s IT leaders are responsible for intelligent transformation – ensuring that data is connected across technology investments to build the right foundation to deploy AI safely. To maximise impact at every level of the enterprise, IT leaders must invest in the AI technologies that help drive ROI, while maintaining security and control. At Asana, we’re enthusiastic about helping the world’s leading enterprises work smarter and improve business outcomes through our latest AI innovations.”

Dr Rebecca Hinds, Head of Asana’s Work Innovation Lab, commented: “Asana’s State of the IT Leader report shares a valuable look into the critical decisions that CIOs and IT leaders now have to make around intelligent transformation to move enterprises forward, from centralising cluttered work data to understanding how to roll out AI. And according to our research, IT executives predict that AI will spur significant organisational changes as well as the creation of over 100 new AI-driven roles, from AI ethicists, to heads of AI and prompt engineers. Leading organisations will look to CIOs to help understand how to use AI not only to increase productivity, but also to understand how to inform business decisions, drive strategy, and make cross-functional collaboration more effective.”