MWC 2024: Businesses favor gradual adoption of GenAI as they look to address knowledge gaps

The latest EY Reimagining Industry Futures Study confirms generative AI’s (GenAI) status as a breakthrough technology, with 43% of the 1,405 enterprises surveyed investing in it. Overall, GenAI ranks third among the nine emerging technologies tracked in the study, with “Automation and AI” ranking first. Of those currently investing in GenAI, 80% are working on proof-of-concept for applications, while 20% have pilot projects underway.

Despite GenAI’s rising prominence, 38% of respondents favor a measured, incremental approach to adoption – indicating sensitivity to issues around ethics and accountability. Relatedly, 73% seek a greater understanding of GenAI concepts and use cases; 69% say they need to learn more about the risks; and 52% have concerns around potential job displacement.

Enterprises’ priorities regarding GenAI are led by the need to improve data governance to combat risks around data accuracy and ethics (46% of respondents). The top Gen AI use cases cited by businesses include employee training and collaboration (36%) and customer sales and service (35%).

Tom Loozen, EY Global Telecommunications Leader, says:

“One of the biggest trends emerging from this year’s study is the momentum behind GenAI investment, as businesses continue to evaluate its overall impact on their organization. This frontier technology is redefining the possibilities around enterprise transformation. However, there are a host of strategic and practical challenges raised by adoption, not least in relation to data governance. In this landscape, vendors that help enterprises better understand and mitigate the data security, accountability and ethics challenges will win in the market.”

5G investment up as enterprises look to integrate AI

Elsewhere, 5G is seeing a rise in investment year-on-year, up six percentage points to 79%. American enterprises continue to lead other regions on 5G investment, with 82% either currently investing or planning to invest. But other regions are gaining ground, with 79% of European enterprises and 78% of Asian enterprises either currently investing or planning to invest – both up more than 10 percentage points year-on-year in current investment. This reflects the recent advent of 5G standalone technology in these regions.

Overall, organizations surveyed rate cyber and data protection risks as the biggest current 5G challenge outside their control, reflecting the ongoing rise in cyber attacks on internet of things (IoT) devices.

Looking ahead, enterprises rank exploring 5G’s relationship to AI and other emerging technologies as their top future priority for 5G adoption (42%). However, the report highlights ongoing challenges around enterprises’ ambitions to combine technologies, with 60% stating that vendors do not adequately articulate how 5G and IoT can be integrated with AI.

Adrian Baschnonga, EY Global TMT Lead Analyst, says:

“Integrating different emerging technologies is now a priority for businesses, but technology vendors are falling short of expectations. This is not just about better articulation: the study tells us that 59% of enterprises don’t believe that sufficient AI capabilities are included within the IoT solutions offered. Vendors need to do better, closing this confidence gap by clearly showcasing the added value derived from combining different technologies.”

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