AI the most critical technology for CIOs over the next five years

60% of CIOs believe artificial intelligence and machine learning are the top critical future technologies

AI

Almost two-thirds of CIOs see artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies as being very important or critical to their businesses over the next five years, according to a report from Forbes, in association with VMWare.

The report, which surveyed over 650 CIOs from around the world, explored how CIOs and IT leaders see their role within the business evolving over the next five years, from the types of technology they will be bringing in, to how they plan to drive social responsibility.

AI and machine learning were seen as the top two critical future technologies at 62% and 60% respectively, ahead of the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and blockchain, which came in at just 54%.

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AI applications may be in their infancy, but almost half of organisations around the world are using at least one AI-powered function in their business. It's seen as a technology which will have a huge impact on companies' bottom lines as IT leaders grow more confident in their use of it.

"You need to have a plan of attack for AI and machine learning," said David Gledhill, CIO and group head of technology at DBS Bank in the report. "If you let it just evolve, it can be very dangerous."

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DBS Bank has implemented 280 AI technologies over the past year, ranging from credit analytics to customer service chatbots. Developing strong data governance policies, cleansing the data, and working hard to avoid model bias when laying the foundations for AI adoption are crucial to success, according to Gledhill.

But among all the hype around AI's potential for businesses, CIOs are also concerned about the impact these technologies will have on employees in the future.

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It is usually the repeatable tasks and transactions which are the first to have AI or machine learning applied to them, and this can be a challenge for the staff who used to perform these tasks. "Suddenly people are doing less work, and the work they are doing is harder," Carlsberg VP of Technology Sarah Haywood explains in the report. "They're faced with complex issues that need human interaction to resolve."

So alongside implementing these technologies, business leaders are also faced with the task of engineering the company for new skill sets, including upskilling existing workers and anticipating which skills will be needed to keep up with rapidly-evolving IT needs.

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