23rd May 2024, Sydney, Australia –  Following a survey of 173 Australian Chief Data & Analytics Officers (CDAOs) representing organisations responsible for over 35% of Australia’s GDP, local technology research and advisory organisation, ADAPT, has today released the results of its 2024 Data & AI Edge survey.

Mr. Gabby Fredkin, Head of Analytics and Insight at ADAPT, warns that without a clear use-case, data-savvy employees and a mature data infrastructure, companies adopting AI are placing the horse before the cart.

“Companies need to seriously ask themselves how they hope to succeed with GenAI when the fundamentals haven’t been addressed. The vast majority of us still lack what’s needed to realise meaningful value from the technology: data literacy across our workforce remains extremely low, data infrastructure is immature, and data governance strategies aren’t anywhere near as robust as they should be.”

The data also suggests more resources are needed to address these issues:

“A lack of support is also key given 44% of data chiefs complain of too few resources to execute on their data strategies. Compounding this issue is a data skills shortage: two-thirds of companies have critical gaps when it comes to AI model engineers, while half are in dire need of data architects as more are recruited and up-skilled into a relatively nascent field. There’s still a very long way to go before the lofty predictions made by many proponents of the technology become reality.”

“A solution looking for a problem?”: 48% of orgs with no GenAI use-case

Just nine percent of organisations believe they are “somewhat prepared” to realise the value of AI, while almost half are yet to develop clear use-cases for the technology. Despite this, a full 27% of companies intend to build, self-train or host their own Large Language Models in the next 12 months.

Mr. Fredkin believes that organisations with clear AI use-cases are rightly targeting low-hanging fruit by automating existing processes, but stresses that the vast majority of firms are unlikely to realise the technology’s creative potential to drive real value in the near future.

“The tasks currently being performed by Generative AI have been the domain of machine learning for years, which suggests only a tiny few organisations are using the capacity of Generative AI to actually create things. If companies want the really exciting stuff to work as intended they need buy-in from execs, who must be able to make informed, data-driven decisions and end-users equipped with the know-how and guardrails to safely and effectively use the tech. Without it, I’m afraid many are on a collision-course with failure.”


Study identifies strong correlation between AI readiness and data maturity

Fredkin comments on the three key pillars of data maturity, which ADAPT’s study has identified as powerful drivers of AI readiness:

The few organisations prepared to harness AI have, on average, nine times more highly-data literate employees, while a mature data architecture makes AI readiness seven times more likely, and robust data governance quadruples the chance of a company successfully embracing the technology. This is prescriptive for other organisations keen to drive innovation on the AI front as it helps understand what needs their attention as they address a ‘spaghetti’ of issues.”


“Silver lining” and solutions

Mr. Fredkin says that while a huge task lies ahead for the economy, the findings clearly map out the steps needed to create future-ready organisations:

“There’s a silver lining to all of this. Australian data chiefs are much more confident in their ability to improve data strategies than they were twelve months ago and the issue of AI deployment has the attention of the C-suite. The message to them is this: You must invest in modernising and simplifying your data and information architecture as quickly as possible, because the firms who have already taken the modernisation issue seriously are out-earning their competitors, winning and keeping more customers, making use of better processes, and have happier employees working for them. I’m encouraged by the momentum that exists, but whether or not many in the economy are able to get up to speed in time remains to be seen.”

Media Contact media@adapt.com.au