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State of Generative AI in the Enterprise: An Australian Perspective

The State of Generative AI in the Enterprise: Now decides next is based on a survey of more than 2,800 Director to C-suite level respondents across six industries and 16 countries. 

While respondents have a range of self-reported levels of Gen AI expertise, all are experienced with AI and are piloting or implementing Gen AI in their organisations.

The survey sample includes 100 key Australian executives and directors who will be critical to the adoption of Gen AI technology at companies across key industries.

So, what have we learned from this instalment, and just how are Australian businesses tracking in their Generative AI journeys?

One thing is for sure: optimism is at a high in Australia with excitement emerging as the key emotion felt by respondents when it comes to Gen AI adoption. Interestingly, our feelings of uncertainty are lower than global trends and our feelings of trust higher. With the AI regulatory landscape in Australia set to shift in the coming year, there’s every chance our confidence in Gen AI will continue to grow. Elsewhere, Australians are echoing their global counterparts in that they feel the amount of attention being paid by media is too great, but the amount of attention by their industry is too little. Is this a sign that industry in Australia is yet to fully awaken to the potential of Generative AI? Is the intense media coverage causing Gen AI fatigue? Something to keep in mind for future instalments.

Australian businesses are hedging their bets when it comes to investment in Generative AI. In all, 67% felt that investment would only somewhat increase in the next fiscal year – a whopping 14% more than the global average. This indicates to us that Australian businesses are still discovering what this technology means for them before deciding on the best investment pathway to take. We want to keep a close eye on this one as more businesses experiment, deploy and scale their AI solutions.

On the preparedness front, we polled on four dimensions – risk & governance, talent, strategy, and technology & infrastructure. Overall, we track similarly to global trends with risk & governance and talent emerging as the two areas of least preparedness everywhere. One thing to note is, we found the indications of strategy much higher than expected. A total of 96% respondents stated that they had begun to prepare some form of strategy. This one is interesting to us as our experience to date indicates that few Australian businesses have begun to develop a dedicated AI strategy. We’re excited to circle back on this one in the next instalment. On levels of expertise, over 40% of respondents claimed high to very high expertise. We find these results surprising given how rapidly Generative AI is advancing. In our view, those who would rate themselves with higher expertise, we would expect to show lower levels of preparedness. Why? Because as they progress on their Generative AI journeys and begin to learn more, they tend to realise how much more there is to know. We suspect that levels of expertise may decline in the next instalments as a result, but this shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.

The biggest battle being fought in the Australian market is talent. Respondents indicate that across the four dimensions, talent is a sore spot with 49% of Australian respondents citing a skills drought as the largest blocker to AI adoption, up from only 35% globally. Interestingly, 26% of respondents say that they’re very prepared on this front. Our thinking is that perhaps businesses are mobilising around a talent strategy to remediate this issue long term and that is being viewed as preparedness in this current market. Despite all this, more than a third of Australian businesses (37%) indicate they are not going to make changes to their talent strategies for 1-2 years, so talent is going to be a pickle in our market for some time. We’re keen to watch this one play out, with particular focus on that timeline and how businesses will combat this through other means i.e., upskilling or reskilling in the meantime.  

You bet! A huge 58% of respondents indicated that productivity is the key benefit they are chasing on their Generative AI journeys. However, Australia again appears to be hedging its bets on this front with nearly 80% expecting Generative AI to increase productivity only somewhat. Our suspicion here is that while Australian businesses still experiment with these tools and learn what they can do, they don’t want to get too carried away. Once these tools are injected into business with tangible and value driven results, we expect an uptick on this front.

The number one concern for businesses is ‘intellectual property issues’. Our suspicion is that recent news events may be fuelling this sentiment in Australia and will be front and centre in the minds of respondents. On mitigation, Australians trend upwards on the establishment of governance for Generative AI tools but down 12% on AI tool auditing and testing. We’re not altogether surprised by this. As Australia begins to move Generative AI solutions from proof of concept to implementation, auditing will naturally rise to align to global trends.

What next?

This is the first in an ongoing series of quarterly surveys designed to track and measure the pulse of Generative AI across Australian businesses. What excites us is that we now have a strong baseline to build on. From here, our goal is to both track how Generative AI adoption is unfolding across the Australian business landscape and to anticipate where it is headed next. 

You can read the full global report here.

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