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New Research highlights Seismic Gap in Companies’ Preparedness for AI

All organizations in India reported that the urgency to deploy preparedness of AI has increased in their company in the past six months.

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Preparedness for AI


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Only 26% of Indian organisations are fully prepared to deploy and leverage AI, according to a Cisco study, and 75% of them admit they have serious concerns about the impact on their business should they fail to take action within the next 12 months.

According to Cisco's first AI Readiness Index, which was issued today, only 26% of Indian organisations are completely equipped to implement and utilise AI-powered technology. The Index was created in response to the rapidly growing use of AI, a generational change that is affecting practically every aspect of daily life and business. It polled more than 8,000 global firms. The study examines how ready businesses are to use and implement AI, highlighting significant gaps in infrastructure and important business pillars that provide immediate dangers.

The new research finds 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% 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% of respondents admit that this is due to data existing in silos across their organizations.

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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% of organizations already having a robust AI strategy in place or in the process of developing one. More than eight in 10 (86%) organizations are classified as either Pacesetters or Chasers (fully/partially prepared), with only 1% 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.

Liz Centoni, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Applications and Chief Strategy Officer, Cisco: “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. Organizations also need to be able to observe with context how AI is being used to ensure ROI, security, and especially responsibility.”

Key Findings

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Alongside the stark finding that overall, only 26% of companies are Pacesetters (fully prepared), the research found that one third (32%) of companies in India are considered Laggards (unprepared) at 1%, or Followers (limited preparedness) at 31%. Some of the most significant findings include:

  • URGENCY: One year maximum before companies start to see negative business impacts. 75% 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.
  • STRATEGY: Step one is strategy, and organizations are well on their way. 86% of organizations benchmarked as either Pacesetters or Chasers, and only 1% were found to be Laggards. Additionally, 95% 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.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE: Networks aren’t equipped to meet AI workloads. 95% of businesses globally are aware that AI will increase infrastructure workloads, but in India only 39% of organizations consider their infrastructure highly scalable. The same number (39%) 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%) of companies will require further data center graphics processing units (GPUs) to support current and future AI workloads.
  • DATA: 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%) compared to other pillars. 73% 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.
  • TALENT: 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% and 88% respectively showing high or moderate receptiveness. However, there is more work to be done to engage middle management where 18% have either limited or no receptiveness to AI, and among employees over a third (20%) 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% of respondents agreed that they have invested in upskilling of existing employees, 16% alluded to an emerging AI divide, expressing doubt about the availability of enough talent to upskill.
  • GOVERNANCE: AI policy adoption’s slow start. 18% of organizations report not having comprehensive AI policies in place, an area that must be addressed as companies consider and govern all the factors that present a risk in eroding confidence and trust. These factors include data privacy and data sovereignty, and the understanding of and compliance with global regulations. Additionally, close attention must be paid to the concepts of bias, fairness, and transparency in both data and algorithms.
  • CULTURE: Little preparation, but high motivation to make a priority: This pillar had the lowest number of Pacesetters (12%) compared to other categories driven largely by the fact that 18% of companies have not established change management plans yet and of those that have, 66% are still in-progress. C-Suite executives are the most receptive to embracing internal AI changes and must take the lead in developing comprehensive plans and communicating them clearly to middle management and employees who have relatively lower rates of acceptance. The good news is that motivation is high. More than eight out of 10 (86%) say their organization is embracing AI with a moderate to high level of urgency.  

Cisco AI Readiness Index 

The new Cisco AI Readiness Index is based on a double-blind survey of 8,161 private sector business and IT leaders across 30 markets, conducted by an independent third-party surveying respondents from companies with 500 or more employees. The Index assessed respondents’ AI readiness across six key pillars: strategy, infrastructure, data, talent, governance, and culture.

Companies were examined on 49 different metrics across these six pillars to determine a readiness score for each, as well as an overall readiness score for the respondents’ organization. Each indicator was assigned an individual weightage based on its relative importance to achieving readiness for the applicable pillar. Based on their overall score, Cisco has identified four groups at different levels of organizational readiness – Pacesetters (fully prepared), Chasers (moderately prepared), Followers (limited preparedness), and Laggards (unprepared).

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