CDAOs’ Outlook on Generative AI

Community Blog
Written by Megan Woodruff

AUGUST 8, 2023

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 rocked the world, creating endless opportunities and risks for those who embrace it. With years of experience in AI and machine learning, Chief Data Officers (CDOs) and Chief Data and Analytics Officers (CDAOs) are leading the charge in identifying how generative AI can be used to drive business value.

In a recent community pulse survey, we asked Evanta CDAO community members about their plans for generative AI and what they believe the impact will be on the future of business. The results show that they are optimistic, yet cautious, and many are striving to be early adopters.

Here, we are observing 5 highlights from our CDAO community pulse survey on generative AI:

1. CDAOs are currently using generative AI, but many are in a piloting phase.

More than half of data and analytics leaders (54%) said that they are currently using ChatGPT or another generative AI tool at their organization, but most respondents explained that they are in a “piloting” or “exploratory” phase. They are testing a variety of use cases, with many indicating that they are starting with email, code writing and chatbots to improve customer service. Another CDAO shared that they are conducting hackathons for how generative AI can be used to summarize documents.

For those not using generative AI, they provided a plethora of explanations in the comments. Some shared that data security, intellectual property concerns and their highly regulated industries are holding them back, while others expressed it is simply too early to jump in, and they named the accuracy of generative AI tools, not seeing substantial use cases or that they are not mature enough on their AI journey as reasons why they are choosing not to use it.

2. Data leaders are in the process of developing AI policies.

When asked about their company policy around generative AI, 40% of data and analytics leaders say they are developing an approach to AI tools, but do not have one yet. One data leader cited, “We need the guardrails in place before we can open the capability. Teams are working on defining the guardrails and controls.”

Thirty percent are allowing some employees to use it (taking department and role into consideration), 19% are allowing open access for all employees and only 11% are forbidding use.

One CDAO who allows open access shared their approach, saying “We have deployed a ChatGPT service in [a Cloud tool] for all employees to use a generative AI solution that is secure to protect our IP and prevent data loss. We have developed a pipeline of use cases focused on products and internal operational improvements.”

3. Data and analytics leaders see many short- and long-term opportunities with AI.

In the short-term, 31% of data and analytics leaders believe generative AI will improve current processes and 26% believe it will automate redundant tasks and save time. Twenty-three percent say it can help provide insights from analytics, while 18% think it will provide cost savings. In the comments, D&A leaders added fraud detection and providing value to customers as additional opportunities.

In the long-term, 28% of data and analytics leaders believe generative AI has the potential to have a large impact on creating operational efficiencies, and 23% believe it will remove tedious tasks from the workforce. Another 19% say it will improve customer experience, 18% say it will initiate new business models and 10% say it will eliminate administrative jobs. D&A leaders say in the future they hope generative AI will “expedite coding and analysis,” “remove their dependency on dashboards and reports” and “free up staff for innovation.”

4. Data privacy and security risks are their greatest concerns.

As generative AI is in its early stages, we asked data and analytics leaders about their concerns. Two answers were tied, both receiving 23% of responses: (1) if data privacy is rigorous enough to meet their standards and (2) if they can deploy it securely or manage the security risks. 

One CDAO added, “Is it going to create a mess at large scale that requires human intervention to fix?” Another mentioned, “The hype surrounding it is resulting in the business looking to use it in ways that won't add value, are potentially damaging or would result in wasted time and effort.”

Coming in at a close third at 21% was if D&A leaders can govern its use internally. In the comments, one CDAO shared how they are hoping to mitigate this stating, “We’re training our staff about the do’s and don'ts of the usefulness of generative AI capabilities, before allowing any staff member to use the technology.” 

In the Other responses, we saw a few responses asking: “if we can use generative AI ethically,” “if it produces incorrect answers not checked by a human” and “if the capability numbs accountability.”

5. CDAOs are overwhelmingly positive about the future.

Out of all C-level executives communities we surveyed on this topic, CDOs and CDAOs have the most positive outlook on generative AI and its impact on the future of business, with a staggering 90% saying they either have a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” feeling. Just 7% have a neutral outlook, and only 3% have either a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” view on generative AI.

This is only the beginning of generative AI and its impact on business, but it’s inspiring to see how our CDAO communities have hit the ground running and been able to make such progress in such a short period of time. Here is a sample of comments from data and analytics leaders on how they are using generative AI to drive business value today:

We’re empowering sales and marketing teams with content generation, client and potential client understanding, productivity use-cases and vertical use-cases pertaining to product development.”

Helping clients in mergers and acquisitions.”

We're currently assessing use cases and started piloting generative AI for our job board.”

We added it to our support team to answer questions from our customers about our products, using natural language.”

We’re allowing employees to use generative AI as a general tool in their toolbox (like Google search) and informing them of related risks.”

Discover the complete survey results in our infographic, and join your local CDAO community to discuss mission critical priorities, including how to navigate the possibilities of generative AI, with your data and analytics peers.

Megan Woodruff headshot

Megan Woodruff

Associate Content Director at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CDAOs, for CDAOs

Join the conversation with peers in your local CDAO community.