A new study commissioned by Datacom, Australasia's largest homegrown tech company, reveals a paradox in the Australian business landscape: while the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is soaring, governance and policy frameworks are struggling to keep pace.
According to the research, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Australian businesses are already utilizing AI technologies. "Australian organisations are embracing AI, with nearly three-quarters (72%) of business leaders confirming that AI is already in use within their organisation," the online report states. However, only 52% of respondents have staff policies in place governing its use. "Just 52% of respondents had staff policies in place around AI usage, while only 40% had legal guidelines in place for use of AI and 39% had audit assurance and governance frameworks," the report adds.
The study also highlights that 86% of business leaders believe AI will significantly impact operations and workplace structures. Despite this, there is a gap in understanding the risks involved. "While the majority of Australian business leaders (80%) are aware of the security implications around AI, there is a need for further education with one in five business leaders saying they don’t feel well educated on the security risks AI may pose for their organisation," the online report notes.
Security and control are major concerns, with 60% of respondents expressing fears over loss of control and security issues. "Security, safety concerns around control of AI tools and ethics ranked as the top three concerns, with bias and unemployment also featuring as a key concern," the report states.
Datacom Australia MD Alex Coates emphasizes the need for governance. "AI offers significant opportunities to improve the way we work and to develop smart, adaptive solutions that meet the needs of our customers and communities, but it is critical that organisations have the right governance in place to manage the potential risks that come with AI," he says.
The lack of governance could be a contributing factor to the high number of businesses calling for government legislation. "Almost 90% of business leaders believe the government should bring in specific legislation and controls around the use of AI within government and/or the public sector," according to the online report.
The study also identifies industries that stand to gain or lose the most from AI adoption. Financial services were seen as both the greatest opportunity (22%) and risk (30%), followed by healthcare and legal services.
The research was conducted in July 2023 by Antenna Insights and engaged 318 business decision-makers working in Australian organisations.