The mass roll out of generative artificial intelligence tools in the workplace is being fiercely resisted by technology chiefs, despite their own admission that there a numerous potential benefits, with efficiency, creativity and marketing leading the way.
That is according to a study by BlackBerry, conducted by OnePoll, which quizzed 2,000 IT decision-makers in Europe, North America and APAC.
It reveals that two-thirds (66%) of tech chiefs have either banned or were considering banning the AI tools.
A quarter (26%) had banned or were considering banning AI tech on bring-your-own (BYO) devices, 23% had done so on business-owned devices, and 17% on both BYO and business-owned devices. Just a third (34%) had not banned the tech or had no plans to.
In 70% of cases, the bans were driven by data security concerns from the IT department and originated from the CIO, CTO or CISO. In 39% of organisations, the decision was driven by the CEO, and in 36% by legal or compliance teams.
Overall, UK respondents were marginally less cautious than their EMEA counterparts. A total of 34% of UK respondents said they had no plans to ban ChatGPT, compared to 28% of EMEA respondents and 25% globally.
Like their overseas counterparts, UK executives were most driven to enact bans due to the potential risk to data security and privacy posed by generative AI, and 55% due to the potential risk to their corporate reputation.
Almost half (48%) said they had become concerned given their previous experience with a cyber incident or data breach, a similar proportion (47%) said acting to align with others who had put bans in place was a key driver, and 39% cited a lack of government oversight or regulation.
The most significant potential benefits anticipated by UK bosses were improved efficiency, innovation and enhanced creativity, as well as its ability to cut costs, improve marketing, attract younger talent, and defend against cyber attacks.
When asked about how comfortable they were with their cyber security provider using generative AI tools in a defensive situation, 74% of UK chiefs said they were either very or fairly happy with the prospect, while 15% had no feelings either way, and 7% were either somewhat or very worried about the idea.
BlackBerry chief technology officer Shishir Singh said that organisations were being over cautious. He added: “Banning generative AI applications in the workplace can mean a wealth of potential business benefits are quashed.”
“We are innovating with enterprise-grade generative AI, keeping a steady focus on value over hype, and are exercising caution with unsecured consumer generative AI tools.
“As platforms mature and regulations take effect, flexibility could be introduced into organisational policies. The key will be in having the right tools in place for visibility, monitoring and management of applications used in the workplace.”
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