Emerging technologies catch IT leaders flat-footed, so it comes as no surprise that some are clenching their teeth over shadow AI, or the unsanctioned use of generative AI and associated services.
CIOs recall when cloud computing disrupted the industry more than a decade ago. They remember business line leaders using corporate credit cards for cloud applications from startups.
Yet once IT leaders realized how much employees valued these tools they came around. They secured enterprise licenses, integrated the technologies with their existing IT systems and trained employees. IT leaders augmented productivity while preserving security.
With today’s proliferation of genAI services democratizing AI, IT leaders are bracing for the growth of shadow AI.
Yet IT leaders should embrace and extend rather than hinder employees’ genAI experiences.
This would serve two desirable goals: help employees realize greater productivity and even augment the customer experience.
GenAI can be the bridge between IT and the business
GenAI could help buoy profits by as much as $4.4 trillion by boosting productivity across customer operations, sales and marketing, software engineering, and research and development, according to McKinsey Digital.1
With genAI gaining traction, IT should learn what employees prefer to use, educate them on how to use them responsibly and institute guardrails. This might help IT garner goodwill with the business, with which it may be at odds—even today.
Consider that while more than half of IT decision makers want a stronger relationship with their business peers, 81% of business decision makers exclude their IT peers from strategic decision-making, according to new Dell research.2 Lack of trust is typically the key sticking point.
Yet IT leaders can take lessons from their past experiences with shadow IT to build a bridge between employees and genAI that cultivates trust unleashes innovation. These tips can point the way.
Establish your genAI posture
Some IT leaders’ first instinct is to create or at least command every technology solution. Instead, IT leaders should learn and understand how employees consume genAI to assist their work.
IT leaders must then work with the C-suite to build consensus around how to use genAI to accelerate the business but balance such efforts with risk mitigation, as McKinsey noted.
Leadership will communicate this messaging to the rank-and-file early and often.
Adopt a product management mindset
When it’s time to engage with a vendor or build a solution, IT leaders can position themselves as innovators by executing with a product management mindset that aligns agile development practices with business goals.
“CIOs can use this approach to ensure that their technology solutions directly contribute to the organization’s objectives,” said CIO-turned-investor Yousuf Khan.
Upskill then wash, rinse and repeat
GenAI is new enough that most employees don’t yet know how to use it and most companies aren’t helping. Only 6% of companies have trained more than 25% of their people on genAI tools, according to a Boston Consulting Group survey of C-suite executives.3
Organizations must tailor education, training and tools for employees in technical and nontechnical roles.
Accenture plans to train 250,000 employees on how to use genAI services responsibly, said Accenture CEO Julie Sweet at the recent World Economic Forum. “This is basic digital literacy to run a company and to be good,” Sweet said.
The stakes are high for such literacy. As much as 40% of current job roles will be redefined or eliminated across large enterprises due to genAI adoption, according to IDC research commissioned by Dell.4
Practice responsible AI and sound governance
From a risk perspective, genAI is like Jurassic Park—chaotic. GenAI services are black boxes; no one knows how they arrive at their conclusions. They may hallucinate and spew false information. Comprised or inaccurate content can put businesses’ reputation—or worse—at risk.
This makes risk mitigation critical. Most companies will track and assess AI for risk and apply mitigation strategies as needed over the next 12 to 24 months, Accenture’s Sweet predicted.
One more thing
Falling back on the classic command-and-control stance is instinctive for IT leaders, but genAI is too easy to use and easily accessible for most employees.
Instead, IT leaders should work with their business peers on responsible use, adopt and/or build safe and vetted technologies, and educate and communicate to the rank-and-file how to consume them.
Trusted partners can help, providing the hardware, software and services to help organizations bring AI to their data in a way that respects IT governance while democratizing employee access to genAI services.
Learn more at dell.com/ai.
1 The Economic Potential of Generative AI: The Next Productivity Frontier, McKinsey Digital, June 2023 2 Building Your Innovation Muscle, Dell Technologies, Feb. 2024. 3 From Potential to Profit with GenAI, BCG, Jan. 2024 4 Workforce Upskilling for the AI Era, IDC, Jan. 2024
Read More from This Article: Embracing shadow AI will help accelerate innovation