5th March 2024, Melbourne –  Following a survey of 181 Australian Chief Information Officers and digital leaders representing companies responsible for 28% of our GDP and 12% of our workforce, local technology research and advisory organisation, ADAPT, has today released the results of its 2024 CIO Edge survey, which outlines the top priorities and challenges of Australia’s top digital executives.

After a review of the data, Mr. Gabby Fredkin, Head of Data & Analytics at ADAPT, asserts that Australian organisations aren’t even close to prepared to deal with the expected impact of artificial intelligence, but says a fear of missing out is causing a hurried adoption of the technology from organisations not prepared to use it:

“The issue is we lack the digital maturity needed to make the most out of AI, but are still rushing into deployments fearing we’ll miss the boat, which is really problematic given the potential consequences of AI done badly. 2023 was rightly the year of cyber literacy, but the impending wave of AI and extremely low rates of data literacy across the economy makes it clear 2024 should be the year of data. Although acting with speed is important, we know companies with a strong data culture are vastly more prepared to successfully adopt AI than their less mature counterparts. This means execs first need to improve the culture and perception of data in their organisation, which will help them reap the potentially transformational benefits of the tech while minimising the risks involved.”


Low rates of AI deployment persist

When asked about the progression of AI deployment in their organisations, just 4% of respondents claimed they had “full scale deployment” of the technology, while 19% have deployed AI on a small scale. Additionally, 23% of organisations are piloting the technology, and a further 32% have no plans to make use of AI.


Funding, skills, and cultural shortfalls preventing AI progress

Illustrating a rush into the technology, no CIO said their organisation is fully prepared to harness AI this year, just nine per cent of CIOs considered themselves “somewhat prepared”, 25% are “neutral”, 36% said their organisation is between neutral and unprepared, while a full 30% of CIOs claimed their organisation is “fully unprepared”. The technical issues preventing companies from extracting value from AI included a lack of data skills (24% of respondents), a struggle to secure resources for AI initiatives (20%), an inconsistent data culture (19%), a lack of data quality (13%), and a fear or lack of trust in AI (13%).


Generative AI initiatives “way down the list” of IT priorities in 2024

When asked about their top projects over the next 12 months, respondents listed in order cybersecurity (44% of respondents), automation and machine learning (23%), as well as infrastructure modernisation (21%) as their highest priorities. Meanwhile, just 16% of respondents claimed generative AI was a priority over the coming year, placing it tenth on the list. Gabby Fredkin says this suggests CIOs are stretched for time to focus on high-value strategic work: ‘

“CIOs are frazzled by the day-to-day demands of their roles. While they’re often highly data-literate, they’re not always the best positioned to be driving data literacy uplift as well – this is where leadership from other departments need to chip in on bringing their entire workforce up to speed.”

Fredkin outlines what he believes is needed to “ride the AI wave”, which he predicts will arrive in earnest in 2025, without falling behind competitors:

There’s a real possibility that the wave, set to change the way we work, communicate, and capture value will truly hit in 2025, but building a data-driven enterprise is slipping down our list of priorities, which is concerning given there’s no AI without IA [information architecture] consisting of high-quality data structured in the right way, combined with clear ownership over that data – this means improvement is needed fast. We now need a focus from company leaders on creating and gathering high-quality data, using it to guide their teams, and educating themselves about how the evolution of AI is likely to impact their industry – this may very well be their sink-or-swim moment.”


1. Top 5 industries represented in the survey: Government (17% of respondents), Financials (15%), Consulting (15%), Healthcare (14%), and Retail (12%)

2. Over a quarter of CIO respondents are hosting or building their own Large Language Models despite just 9% of organisations currently considered “somewhat prepared” for AI

3. Just 35% of employees are considered to have enough “data literacy” to perform their roles

4. The survey revealed organisations with a stronger information and data architecture are, on average, eight times more prepared than those with a weak data architecture

5. 72% of CIOs agreed they are under-resourced. On average, they believe they require 33% more resources to deliver on a progressive IT strategy in 2024

6. Building a data-driven enterprise is the #5 priority for CIOs in 2024, while 2023 and 2022 surveys revealed the priority at number four and three on CIOs agenda, respectively

Media Contact media@adapt.com.au