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How GenAI is Transforming the Role of CIO

The introduction of Artificial intelligence (AI), and the emergence of Generative AI  (GenAI), are now resulting in two key focus areas for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and their IT leadership team.

"GenAI is not just a technology or just a business trend. It is a profound shift in how humans and machines interact," said Mary Mesaglio, VP Analyst at Gartner. "We are moving from what machines can do for us to what machines can be for us."

AI platforms are evolving rapidly from being our tools to becoming our teammates. Gartner predicts that by 2025, GenAI will be a workforce partner for 90 percent of companies worldwide.

CIO Leadership Market Development

CIOs have a major role in how they shape AI and how AI shapes us. According to recent Gartner surveys of CEOs, enterprise CIOs are their number one choice to unlock the value of GenAI tools.

In fact, CIOs and IT executives will prioritize two areas to unleash the possibility of AI over the next 12-24 months – they'll decide on their AI ambition and become AI-ready.

Everyday AI is focused on productivity.

The machine is a productivity partner. It enables workers to do what they already do faster and more efficiently. Currently, 75 percent of EMEA CIOs and technology leaders are focused on the opportunities of everyday AI.

"It is important to note that everyday AI will go from dazzling to ordinary with outrageous speed," said Mesaglio. "Everyone will have access to the same tools, and it will not provide a sustainable competitive advantage. Everyday AI is the new table stakes."

Game-changing AI is focused primarily on creativity.

"It doesn’t just make us faster or better. Either it creates new results, via AI-enabled products and services; or it creates new ways to create new results, such as with AI-enabled new core capabilities. With game-changing AI, machines will disrupt business models and entire industries," said Mesaglio.

More and more, AI will be jointly delivered by IT and the wider enterprise lines of business. To succeed, the whole executive team must be engaged. This provides a tremendous opportunity for CIOs to make a difference.

CIOs can help their CEO and CxO peers cut through AI complexity and define their organization’s AI ambition by examining the opportunities and risks of using GenAI in four areas: the back office, the front office, new products and services, and new core capabilities.

As AI continues transforming the relationship between humans and machines, CIOs must actively shape the nature of this change. In this new era of human-machine interaction, there will be many unforeseen consequences.

"A technology decision is not just a technology decision anymore. It is a technology, economic, social and ethical decision all at once," said Mesaglio.

To navigate decisions about AI in their organization, CIOs and IT leaders need lighthouse principles — a vision for AI that lights the way and says what kind of human-machine relationships they will and will not accept.

However, few organizations have established lighthouse principles or even a clear vision for AI. A Gartner survey found that only 9 percent of organizations have an AI vision statement in place, and more than one-third of respondents had no plans to create an AI vision statement.

According to the Gartner analyst assessment, to facilitate a swift and safe adoption of GenAI in the next 12 months, organizations must do three things:

  1. Establish AI-ready principles: Lighthouse principles must align with the values of the organization. The organization’s values must be the guiding light for navigating the unknowns of how humans and machines will interact.
  2. Make data AI-ready: For data to be AI-ready, it must meet five criteria. It is secure, enriched, fair, accurate, and governed by the lighthouse principles.
  3. Implement AI-ready security: For every positive use of AI, someone is putting that same technology to negative use. This is the dark side of AI. CIOs should prepare for new attack vectors and work with the executive team to create an acceptable use policy for public generative AI solutions.

Outlook for AI-Powered Applications Growth

"The era of AI-powered business will lead to unintended consequences without advance planning. CIOs need a way to light the way forward, even when everything seems new or murky," concludes Mesaglio.

To safely harness this disruption, CIOs must work with executive leaders to define their ambitions for using Everyday AI -- and Game-Changing AI -- to establish AI-ready principles, data, and security.

That said, I believe organizational change management skills will become essential for CIOs and their leadership team to retain an active role in GenAI decision-making. Clearly, they'll have to earn it.

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