Only 26 per cent of organisations in India are fully prepared to deploy and leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered technologies, according to Cisco’s inaugural AI Readiness Index. The report highlights companies’ preparedness to utilize and deploy AI, showcasing critical gaps across key business pillars and infrastructures that pose serious risks for the near future.
The Index, which surveyed over 8,000 global companies, was developed in response to the accelerating adoption of AI, a generational shift that is impacting almost every area of business and daily life. It found that while AI adoption has been slowly progressing for decades, the advancements in Generative AI, coupled with public availability in the past year, are driving greater attention to the challenges, changes and new possibilities posed by the technology.
While 93 per cent of respondents believe AI will have a significant impact on their business operations, it also raises new issues around data privacy and security. The Index findings show that companies experience the most challenges when it comes to leveraging AI alongside their data. In fact, 73 per cent of respondents admit that this is due to data existing in silos across their organisations.
However, there is also positive news. Findings from the Index revealed that companies in India are taking many proactive measures to prepare for an AI-centric future. When it came to building AI strategies, 95 per cent of companies already have a robust AI strategy in place or in the process of developing one.
More than eight in 10 (86 per cent) organizations are classified as either Pacesetters or Chasers (fully/partially prepared), with only 1 per cent falling into the category of Laggards (not prepared). Which indicates a significant level of focus by C-Suite executives and IT leadership.
This could be driven by the fact that all respondents said the urgency to deploy AI technologies in their organization has increased in the past six months, with IT infrastructure and cybersecurity reported as the top priority areas for AI deployments.
“As companies rush to deploy AI solutions, they must assess where investments are needed to ensure their infrastructure can best support the demands of AI workloads,” said Liz Centoni, executive vice president and general manager, applications and chief strategy officer at Cisco. “Organizations also need to be able to observe with context how AI is being used to ensure ROI, security, and especially responsibility.”
Alongside the stark finding that overall, only 26 per cent of companies are Pacesetters (fully prepared), the research found that one third (32 per cent) of companies in India are considered Laggards (unprepared) at 1 per cent, or Followers (limited preparedness) at 31 per cent.
As per the Index, one year maximum before companies start to see negative business impacts. 75 per cent of respondents in India believe they have a maximum of one year to implement an AI strategy before their organization begins to incur significant negative business impact.
Step one is strategy, and organizations are well on their way. 86 per cent of organizations benchmarked as either Pacesetters or Chasers, and only 1 per cent were found to be Laggards. Additionally, 95 per cent of organizations already have a highly defined AI strategy in place or are in the process of developing one, which is a positive sign, but shows there is more to do.
Networks aren’t equipped to meet AI workloads. 95 per cent of businesses globally are aware that AI will increase infrastructure workloads, but in India only 39 per cent of organizations consider their infrastructure highly scalable.
The same number (39 per cent) of companies say they have limited or no scalability at all when it comes to meeting new AI challenges within their current IT infrastructures. To accommodate AI’s increased power and computing demands, over two thirds (68 per cent) of companies will require further data center graphics processing units (GPUs) to support current and future AI workloads.
Organizations cannot neglect the importance of having data ‘AI-ready’. While data serves as the backbone needed for AI operations, it is also the area where readiness is the weakest, with the greatest number of Laggards (9 per cent) compared to other pillars.
73 per cent of all respondents claim some degree of siloed or fragmented data in their organization. This poses a critical challenge as the complexity of integrating data that resides in various sources and making it available for AI implications can impact the ability to leverage the full potential of these applications.
The need for AI skills reveals a new-age digital divide. Boards and Leadership Teams are the most likely to embrace the changes brought about by AI, with 87 per cent and 88 per cent respectively showing high or moderate receptiveness.
However, there is more work to be done to engage middle management where 18 per cent have either limited or no receptiveness to AI, and among employees over a third (20 per cent) of organizations report that employees are either unwilling to adopt AI or outright resistant.
The need for AI skills reveals a new-age digital divide. While 95 per cent of respondents agreed that they have invested in upskilling of existing employees, 16 per cent alluded to an emerging AI divide, expressing doubt about the availability of enough talent to upskill.