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We are at the outset of the next industrial revolution, powered by AI. Unlike the past four revolutions that stretch across three centuries, generative AI is revolutionizing many aspects of our lives and work at an unprecedented speed and scale. Businesses no longer want to just hear anecdotes about how transformative the technology is. They’re ready to act. 

But don’t just take it from me. Databricks just teamed up with MIT Tech Review Insights to survey 600 CIOs, CTOs, CDOs and technology leaders from large public and private sector organizations on how they’re investing in and leveraging data and AI. The report also features in-depth interviews with C-suite executives from the world’s best-known companies and organizations, including Starbucks, Condé Nast, Dell, GM, ADP, Regeneron Genetics Center, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, and Razorpay. Our findings show that in every industry the lion’s share of technology executives rate their company’s current adoption of AI as “fast” or “very fast.” And the expectations are high. In the next two years, the vast majority (81%) expect to see a 25% efficiency gain from their AI investments. Of those, one-third expect to see at least a 50% improvement. 

Despite the excitement, companies still face an uncertain economic environment ahead. And leaders are understandably cautious about how to allocate increasingly precious corporate resources. Still, every organization surveyed will boost spending on modernizing data infrastructure and adopting AI during the next year, and nearly half of the technology leaders surveyed (46%) expect to increase budgets by more than 25%. 

Here are other key findings from the report: 

Companies have too many data and AI tools: Among the largest organizations, or those with revenue over $10 billion, 83% have 10 or more data and AI systems, while 28% have more than 20. It’s why technology executives from those businesses say they are focused on deploying a unified platform to help consolidate the number of tools in use. 

Governance is key: Tech leaders are seeking assurances that their data is accurate and reliable, and that the necessary privacy and security controls are in place. It’s why 60% of respondents say a single governance model for data and AI is “very important.”

The Lakehouse is becoming the data architecture of choice for the era of generative AI.: A commanding 74% of technology leaders say they have adopted the architecture. And among those that haven’t, 89% say they are likely to over the next few years. 

Building and buying the way to Gen AI: The majority of technology leaders (58%) say they are taking a hybrid approach to deploying generative AI. They are building their own applications when advantageous, but also using commercial models for some use cases. 

Businesses are ready for real-time: When it comes to the most important requirements for infrastructure to support AI, 72% of respondents listed “streaming data workloads for real-time analytics” as important. Public sector, Financial Services and Telco in particular have identified real-time analysis as their top Gen AI use cases.  

Everybody wants something different about Gen AI: While enthusiasm for Gen AI is consistent across sectors, there are major differences between what businesses want to achieve with the technology. For example, personalization and customer experiences are the top priority for financial services and media companies, while retailers, manufacturing and energy industries are prioritizing supply chain optimization.

It’s clear executives are excited about AI. But it’s also clear that many organizations have work to do to make the technology a reality for them. Read more about how CIOs are preparing for the AI age in the full MIT Technology Review Insights Research Report

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