CIOs’ Current Outlook on Generative AI

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

AUGUST 22, 2023

As we wrote back in February, one of the themes for CIOs this year is thriving through volatility. And while we may have originally been thinking about the economic climate, the speed of change, and general business disruption, perhaps nothing is a better example of speed and disruption than the launch of ChatGPT and the subsequent burst of energy around generative AI tools.

Artificial intelligence was a major topic among CIOs in Evanta communities this spring, popping up on Executive Summit agendas and in Inner Circle Dinner and Town Hall discussions. (Even when it wasn’t the overarching topic, the conversation would still turn to AI!) 

We recently surveyed technology leaders in our communities around the world, asking what they think about AI tools, whether or not they are using them, and what they predict about the current and future impact of AI on businesses. One takeaway is that more than half of CIOs are already using generative AI tools at their organizations.

53% of CIOs report their organizations are using ChatGPT or other generative AI tools

Here are 5 more highlights from the 360 CIOs who responded to the survey, and you can see all of the results in our infographic.

1. CIOs are currently experimenting and testing AI tools.

When we asked how they are using AI tools, CIOs shared comments around research and exploration, such as “in exploratory mode only,” “largely researching the use,” and “lots of small experiments currently across the business.” Another executive wrote that they’re not using it in a structured way, but “we have just started a taskforce to look into opportunities and constraints.”

Among the 47% of respondents who said they are not using it yet, IT leaders shared that they “have not defined use cases,” or they are “evaluating the technology at this time.” One CIO stated that they “just determined the company position on appropriate use.”

2. They are developing an organizational approach to AI tools.

While many are exploring the possibilities, 42% of IT leaders say their organizations are in the process of developing an approach to AI tools – but don’t have one yet. Twenty-eight percent of CIOs say some employees are allowed to use it, and 23% report that all employees are allowed to use AI tools. Only a small percentage of CIOs (7%) said their organizations are not allowing employees to use generative AI tools at all.

3. CIOs’ top concerns are data privacy and security.

Like their peers across the C-suite, CIOs in our survey said that their top two concerns about AI tools are data privacy and security, with 23% of CIOs citing each of those issues. Twenty-one percent also said they are concerned about managing how the workforce uses AI tools. As one CIO wrote, “We need to have good policies in place before it is used company-wide.”

4. Despite these concerns, CIOs are positive about the future of AI.

A whopping 85% of CIOs say they have a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” outlook for the future of generative AI. Twelve percent are “neutral,” and only 3% feel “somewhat negative” about AI.

5. CIOs predict that AI will create operational efficiencies in the future.

Looking to the future, 27% of CIOs believe that generative AI will create operational efficiencies, and 24% think it will reduce tedious tasks for the workforce. Twenty-one percent also think that AI will ultimately improve the way their organizations provide customer service. 

We asked CIOs about what other future impacts AI may have on businesses, and in their comments, they both recognize the disruption and see the possibilities:

It will disrupt the current ecosystem of major digital platforms.”

It will extend the capabilities of our current staff.”

It will enhance productivity in ways not seen since the advent of smartphones.”

It will open new venues and opportunities for every role in the organization.”

To view the complete results of our survey of more than 350 CIOs, check out our infographic.

If you are CIO navigating the issues and opportunities of generative AI, check out our calendar for an opportunity to discuss this topic with your peers, or find your local Evanta CIO community and apply to join.

Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Sr Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company