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Generative AI adoption rates on the rise in workplaces according to new Microsoft Ireland and Trinity College Dublin report
[February 28, 2024]

Generative AI adoption rates on the rise in workplaces according to new Microsoft Ireland and Trinity College Dublin report

Indigenous organisations lagging behind multinationals based in Ireland who are leveraging on average 30% more generative AI

  • Microsoft Ireland report reveals that 49% of organisations are already using generative AI in some form at this early stage of availability.
  • 47% of organisations believe the technology will enhance productivity, contrasting with only 17% holding opposing views.
  • Those with a generative AI-first policy (company-wide approach) feel there are more benefits, such as productivity increases, from generative AI (71%) compared to firms that prohibit generative AI use.
  • A shadow generative AI culture is emerging - 27% of leaders are using publicly available or free generative AI tools in their role and 25% believe their employees are doing the same - while 8% are aware employees use free generative AI software in direct contravention of their organisation's policy.
  • The report carried out by Trinity College Dublin's Business School suggests Ireland is at a crossroads, and first mover advantage is now crucial to capitalise on its position as a global technology hub and drive competitiveness through AI innovation.

DUBLIN, Feb. 29, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Ireland has today unveiled a new AI report, Generative AI in Ireland 2024, which reveals that almost half of organisations across public and private sectors have started to adopt Generative AI. Ireland's position as a global technology hub is a significant driver of adoption rates, with multinationals claiming to use 30% more generative AI than indigenous organisations.

Produced by Trinity College Dublin's Business School, on behalf of Microsoft Ireland, the report involved a survey of 400 senior managers across both the public and private sectors in Ireland. It assesses the uptake, sentiment, and future trends of generative AI at this early stage of its evolution.

Generative AI is a technology that can create new content, like text, imagery, audio, and more, using natural language prompts. It uses data to build models (Large Language Models) that recognise patterns in the data to produce new original content.

Growing adoption

Today's publication points to rising adoption rates of generative AI solutions within Irish workplaces – with 49% highlighting generative AI being used in some form within their organisation.

The survey showed that sectors with the highest planned adoption rates are technology, science, and media, while the agriculture, transport, and utilities sectors appear to be further behind in their generative AI adoption journey.

Almost half (47%) believe the technology will enhance productivity, contrasting with only 17% holding an opposing view, while 46% of respondents agreed that the broad perception in their industry is that generative AI is very useful (22% disagreeing).

Shadow AI workplace culture emerging

However, despite significant trust in the technology (50%), notwithstanding its current infancy, the report reveals a lack of formal AI policy adoption in the workplace. A quarter of leaders say they are aware that some employees within their organisations are using publicly available generative AI tools, and 27% admit to doing so themselves, rather than using enterprise-grade solutions with in-built content safety controls and data protection.

Just 2% of firms indicate there is an organisation-wide AI-first policy in place, meaning a company-wide approach to generative AI. While 8% of respondents highlighted awareness of employees knowingly using generative AI software in contravention to the organisation's policy. This trend could contribute to a shadow generative AI culture, with employees seeking workarounds and using publicly available tools that are not aligned to company policy and that don't have privacy, security, and data protection controls.

Meanwhile, 42% of senior managers highlight they would prefer to have the option of using enterprise-grade AI solutions compared to publicly available tools (17% disagreeing). Twenty-three percent of organisations say they forbid the use of free generative AI software tools, while 52% believe using public or free-to-use generative AI tools might allow others to use confidential information without their knowledge.

While the report maintains that training significantly influences deployment, there is no inherent relationship between technological capability and adoption. This indicates that in order to successfully introduce generative AI, management should focus on making the technology's usefulness to their business clear to both leadership and the rest of their employees.

Interestingly, almost half (49%) say it would be easy for their staff to become skilful at using generative AI in their daily work. While only 1 in 4 believe their internal training systems are well adapted to train people on generative AI technologies.

Potential for Ireland to leverage generative AI innovation and advance its position as a digital leader in Europe

Elsewhere, the report concludes that organisations who have been first movers in the space of generative AI and use a generative AI-first policy see many more benefits and productivity increases (71%) compared to firms that prohibit generative AI (42%). These firms also see higher productivity and innovation potential in their employees, in addition to providing higher training, internal resources and finances to support the transition.

The report identifies that a proactive approach underscores the critical importance of embracing transformative innovation as a means to surpass competitors, reach sustainability goals, explore untapped markets, and reshape industry norms. This is believed to be crucial for Ireland to leverage AI innovation and become a leading digital economy in Europe and beyond.

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