AI & Data: Trust, skills, privacy & governance to dominate agendas

15 February 2024

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Australian companies are navigating a landscape where AI offers significant opportunities but also presents challenges in digital readiness, AI quality, data governance, cyber resilience, and customer trust.

Government estimates an annual GDP AI-boost between $170bn and $600bn by 20301. But digital transformation is lagging, with fewer than half of Australian organisations demonstrating the digital maturity levels needed to fully seize the twin AI opportunities of higher productivity and new competitive advantage2.

While generative AI is at the peak of inflated expectations, 2024 will see a shift towards more realistic capability assessment by organisations. Competition for talent will also intensify, exacerbating the need to upskill, train and retain the right skills. We expect an increased focus on digital competency in executive leadership and governance roles.

The speed and scale of the AI roll-out has already created low public trust and scepticism as to whether applications are being responsibly developed, tested and safely deployed. If left unchecked, this ongoing perception will act as a handbrake on business adoption and wider public acceptance. Business leaders must accelerate AI value and at the same time, create trust, manage risks, and address both the level of organisational change and new skills required to implement these technologies. As AI is successfully integrated into business operations, the need for robust data governance will also become more pronounced. Shadow AI poses a significant cyber threat where staff circumvent organisational policies and use freely available, unregulated AI tools.

Globally, many countries are already taking steps to develop AI-focused regulations to ensure governance and consumer data protection. In Australia, privacy regulations are less mature than other regions such as Europe’s GDPR regime. This will change as local laws are strengthened, necessitating a balance for businesses between leveraging data to improve processes and minimising data collection to only what’s necessary.

1 Source: Taylor et al., ‘Australia’s automation opportunity: Reigniting productivity and inclusive income growth’, McKinsey & Company, 3 March 2019, accessed 12 December 2023.
2 Abbot, B. Tech Republic, ‘Big IT Challenges Australia Needs to Address in 2024 to Seize the AI Moment’ December 18, 2023.

More from the author, Tony Barnes

Generative AI is currently at the peak of expectations but a shift towards more realistic capability assessment is expected in 2024.

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