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Nearly 50% Of Top Tech Executives Across Sectors Will Prioritize AI Budgets: CNBC Survey

The survey highlights the accelerating pace of AI investments, despite the overall decrease in tech spending caused by rising interest rates.
Cover Image Source: Pexels/ Kindel Media
Cover Image Source: Pexels/ Kindel Media

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as the leading area of focus for tech investments among almost half of the top technology executives in various sectors, per CNBC. The CNBC survey highlights that 47% of companies view AI as their priority for technological investments in the upcoming year, surpassing cloud computing, which currently stands at 21%.

The CNBC Technology Executive Council (TEC) conducted this biannual survey from May 15-June 20, gathering valuable perspectives from chief information officers, chief technology officers and chief information security officers across industries such as marketing, pharmaceuticals, telecom, utilities and the public sector.

Image Source: Pexels/Tranmautritam
Image Source: Pexels/Tranmautritam

The survey highlights the accelerating pace of AI investments despite the overall decrease in tech spending caused by rising interest rates. Approximately two-thirds of tech executives reported that their AI investments were gaining momentum. Interestingly, concerns about cost-cutting due to fears of a recession significantly decreased from over 30% in the previous year to just 16% currently.

Meeting customer demand for tech-driven products and solutions emerged as the biggest tech challenge for 26% of respondents, reflecting the increasing importance of AI in fulfilling consumer expectations.

Executives from various industries outlined the diverse applications of AI within their organizations. Diogo Rau, the chief information and digital officer at Eli Lilly, emphasized the use of generative AI in writing patient safety reports and clinical narratives with the potential to revolutionize drug discovery. Rau expressed excitement about the possibility of machines generating new molecules for medicines that may have been unimaginable to humans.

Generative AI is making its mark in customer relationship management as well. MetTel, a telecom company, has implemented AI functionality in their care center, as shared by Eddie Fox, their chief technology officer. Their AI system is capable of reading and understanding client emails, enabling swift action and significantly enhancing employee productivity and efficiency. Fox revealed that this technology has granted their team an additional 380 hours per month to focus on delivering exceptional customer care.

Image Source: istockphoto/Khanchit Khirisutchalual
Image Source: istockphoto/Khanchit Khirisutchalual

Moreover, technology executives have emphasized the utilization of generative AI across various domains. It has been employed to eradicate bias from job descriptions, generate marketing images, manage social media, address IT and HR tickets and facilitate knowledge transfer to younger employees. While some companies are still in the early stages of exploring AI, others have already implemented code generation tools, AI co-pilots and harnessed generative AI for investment decision-making.

Despite the growing emphasis on AI, cloud computing remains the most critical technology area for the majority of companies. Approximately 63% of TEC members cited the cloud as critically important for their company's tech strategy over the next 12 months, closely followed by 58% who acknowledged the significance of AI. Additionally, cybersecurity continues to be a major concern with 42% of respondents expressing increased worries about ransomware compared to a year ago.

Image Source: Pexels/Kindel Media
Image Source: Pexels/Kindel Media

AI's recent advancements are also making a significant impact on the cybersecurity landscape. Jim Richberg, vice president of information security at Fortinet, highlighted their decade-long use of AI to improve generative AI models and identify the subset of data generating the most predictive power.

Richberg emphasized that generative AI could enable organizations to customize and strengthen their cyber defense strategies, offering a proactive security posture. He also cautioned that malicious actors are already utilizing AI, giving them an early advantage. Generative AI could make it more challenging to detect and distinguish between legitimate and malicious content, including emails, voice communications and video interactions.

Image Source: Pexels/BlackJack3D
Image Source: Pexels/BlackJack3D

AI's Impact on Employment

When asked about the impact of AI on jobs, 47% of respondents believed that AI technologies would create more jobs than they would destroy. However, 26% predicted that AI would lead to job destruction while an equal percentage believed it was too early to determine.

Tech executives acknowledged that AI would inevitably transform social interactions and expressed concerns about companies that avoid AI due to fears. They emphasized the need for cautious optimism, taking into account potential societal impacts, intellectual property considerations, legislative actions and the evolving composition of future workforces.