Local CIOs take wait and see stance on ChatGPT
While the majority of surveyed South African chief information officers (CIOs) have not adopted generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) tools, such as ChatGPT, they are evaluating the use cases.
This is one of the key takeaways from the ITWeb Brainstorm CIO Survey 2023. The results were announced last night during the ITWeb Brainstorm CIO Banquet, hosted at the Inanda Club, in Johannesburg.
The survey was run for a month between early September and early October, and received data from 133 verified CIOs or equivalent IT leaders.
Asked if they have adopted ChatGPT or any other generative AI in their business processes, systems or applications, the majority of respondents (60%) said they haven’t, but are still evaluating the emerging technologies.
Only 16% of the CIOs said they have embraced the technologies, while 24% have no plans to do so, the study found.
The study presented some GenAI use case suggestions for the CIOs, with 51% of respondents saying they believe it can be applied to employees’ personal productivity, content generation (43%), data augmentation (32%), automated programming (30%), personalised marketing/customer experience (21%), financial analysis (18%) and scenario generation (23%).
Creating data chaos
Discussing the survey findings during a panel discussion at the event, John Bosco Arends, City of Johannesburg’s group head of information and network technology operations, said the majority of CIOs have not yet bought into GenAI technologies, primarily because they don’t understand the data they have.
“If you look at the statistics, whenever you have ChatGPT, AI or machine learning, on the opposite side you will see data. The reason why most [CIOs] are not implementing these technologies is because a lot of them are struggling with data.”
Arends pointed out ChatGPT and all GenAI technologies must work in an environment where the CIO can trust the data.
“All these technologies interpret the rules that you apply to them on how you use your data. If you don’t have that knowledge, all these things will create chaos. You can apply these technologies; however, the people that you need to serve won’t be served.
“Those are some of the things that are inhibitors to us adopting some of these very interesting technologies.”
Also speaking during the panel discussion, Sello Mmakau, chief information and digital officer at Momentum, said there are several ChatGPT use cases for CIOs.
From a financial services point of view, he noted, fraud detection is one of the crucial use cases.
“By leveraging historical data, with GenAI there is capacity to detect and look at potential financial risks. You can analyse unstructured data to be able to detect that there are anomalies and alert people so that they are able to prevent potential losses.”
Mmakau added that generative AI can also play a critical role in boosting customer services, especially for contact centres.
“We used to have chatbots but they are not as intelligent as GenAI. The use case is where you have this AI bot that can provide a comprehensive response to the client in a human-like manner.
“During the calls in a contact centre, you can also generate insights while you are having a conversation with a client and be able to give context to that. This will enable the agents to give a response that is customised.
Cracking the code
“The other use case that is close to my heart is on the technical or DevOps teams. With GenAI, you can now write code. You can also reduce the development timeframes and release products to the market using GenAI. We are getting into a space where non-technical people will be able to develop code using GenAI.”
Nomthi Nelwamondo, CIO of MTN, also on the panel, said while there are several ChatGPT benefits CIOs can tap into, there are also some risks.
“With GenAI, we need to ensure there is privacy. We need to ensure we are not putting customer information out there and sharing it with the incorrect people. We must also ensure our employees are not sharing internal company information when they are trying to assist a client.
“Security becomes a big issue when it comes to GenAI and it is important that we manage that risk,” Nelwamondo urged.
When ITWeb asked ChatGPT how CIOs can utilise it, the viral bot responded: “It's important for CIOs to carefully plan the implementation of ChatGPT, considering factors like data privacy, security and the specific needs of their organisation.
“Additionally, monitoring and refining ChatGPT’s performance and ensuring it aligns with the organisation’s goals are essential for a successful integration.”
The survey asked a new question this year, requesting CIOs to rate their organisation as either a leader, adopter or follower when it comes to technology adoption. Some 47% of the respondents categorised their company as “leader”.
CIOs were also asked to rate their organisation’s state of digital transformation.
“Worryingly, few CIOs reported an ‘excellent’ state of digital transformation; more than a third rate it as ‘good’ and another third say ‘average’; and over 20% say there’s work to do or it’s downright poor,” said Adrian Hinchcliffe, ITWeb editor-in-chief, presenting the results.
Click here to see all the survey findings.