eCommerceNews Australia - Technology news for digital commerce decision-makers
Story image
Australian CIOs increase AI investment amid application sprawl concerns
Thu, 1st Feb 2024

Despite facing numerous challenges, including macroeconomic pressures, staff shortages, and the potential danger of application sprawl, Australian Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are showing increasing enthusiasm for artificial intelligence (AI). New research by global visual communication platform Canva reveals that they recognise the necessity of innovation to remain competitive. Surveying more than 1,360 CIOs worldwide, including 155 from Australia, the findings demonstrate that there is a prevailing intent amongst Australian CIOs to accelerate their investments in AI applications.

An impressive 96% of Australian CIOs express a desire to enhance their financial commitment to AI apps, modestly outperforming the global average of 94%. In addition, 95% of Australian respondents believe there are too many AI tools available in the market, thus attributing Australia with the highest ranking in comparison to the global average of 84%. In light of this, Australian CIOs are planning the largest AI budget increases globally. Furthermore, a significant 52% are planning budget rises of over 50% for new AI applications.

However, alongside this optimism, there are still concerns. A substantial 88% of Australian CIOs worry about application sprawl. Application sprawl refers to the increase in individual applications used within a workplace, adding complexity and raising security risks. This concern has even been ranked the highest in comparison to the global average of 72%. In addition, 74% of Australian respondents reported a lack of sufficient IT staff to educate employees on correct app usage. Again, this percentage tops the global average, which stands at 64%.

CIOs report that the pace of new apps entering the market is accelerating globally, with 78% anticipating the adoption of 30-60 new apps in 2024. Addressing the increase in application sprawl, 58% intend to initiate some level of consolidation, with 23% planning for significant levels. The need for consolidation is ascribed to stretched IT teams facing an escalation in the number of apps they must supervise. Indeed, 74% declared they lack sufficient staff to teach employees about new apps and their safe, proper usage.

AI is commanding the attention of CIOs, with nearly all (96%) intending to boost their budget for AI app investments. Over half (52%) are planning a budgetary increase of more than 50%. However, identifying the appropriate AI solution is proving problematic, given that 95% of Australian CIOs contend that there is an overload of AI tools in the market, causing confusion and overlap for employees. Inevitably, this leads to under usage and a decrease in productivity.

Despite these concerns, nearly all CIOs (88%) strongly agree that AI tools can dramatically improve both their role and their employees' experience. CIOs cite integrating AI (37%), access to IT talent (35%), and data security (25%) as the most common challenges. Nevertheless, a substantial 77% claim they already have firm guidelines in place to enable safe and responsible use of AI tools.

Cameron Adams, co-founder and chief product officer at Canva, commented: "Navigating the avalanche of new technologies designed to make business easier is proving to be harder than ever. The balancing act CIOs face is unenviable: innovate with AI but don’t contribute to app sprawl. Our findings reinforce that CIOs want to be agents of change and innovation, by choosing technology that helps their organisations have a greater impact while consolidating cost and reducing complexity."

Canva's survey demonstrates an overwhelming desire amongst Australian CIOs to boost the usage of AI tools in 2024. However, the survey also reveals that the wealth of AI tools available on the market and the potential for application sprawl are both a concern. As outlined by Canva, the challenge lies in the identification, selection, and integration of the right AI tools to avoid exacerbating these issues and negatively impacting workforce productivity.