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Irish tech chiefs say cybersecurity and the lack of talent are more pressing worries than AI


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Ronan Walsh is head of technology consulting at EY Ireland

While Irish tech leaders have a high level of interest in artificial intelligence, most of them have not invested in the necessary technology – and don’t yet have an AI strategy, a new survey has found.

Almost one in five (18pc) of the tech leaders said generative AI (Gen AI) tools are banned outright in their firms, but six out of 10 (59pc) said unlicensed Gen AI tools were most likely being used by their employees. Only 6pc of organisations had a formal usage policy for AI.

The findings are contained in EY Ireland’s annual survey of tech leaders, which sought the views of 150 people in senior technology roles across a broad range of Irish organisations.

The key finding was that despite their interest in AI, most have yet to put a concrete strategy in place to ensure it benefits their businesses. Just over six in 10 (62pc) had not invested in AI technologies and did not have a strategy.

The top challenge facing tech leaders is considered to be cybersecurity risks, mentioned by 38pc, up four percentage points on last year’s survey.

It is imperative that tech leaders develop robust AI policies

The second biggest concern was attracting talent, cited by 37pc. This was down on last year, when it was the central concern of 45pc of the tech leaders.

Almost half (43pc) of respondents said that the most valuable technology emerging onto the marketplace is sustainability reporting tools.

Ronan Walsh, head of technology consulting at EY Ireland, said its research showed that, instead of AI strategy, most organisations are focusing on more immediate issues such as cloud migration, cybersecurity and technology that helps with regulatory requirements.

“While this somewhat cautious approach to AI is typical of the technology-adoption lifecycle, the opportunities of AI – and of Gen AI in particular – mean it is imperative that tech leaders develop robust AI policies and take advantage of this breakthrough innovation. Or else they risk getting left behind by their peers,” Mr Walsh said.

“Integrating strong governance with innovative AI applications can help businesses unlock new opportunities responsibly and sustainably while securing a competitive edge in the digital age.

“Elsewhere, the competition for talent continues. And tech leaders’ perspective on the importance of technology to manage regulatory reporting in the areas of sustainability and cybersecurity is also notable – particularly considering the scale of the challenge presented by new reporting sustainability requirements such as the CSRD and the CSDDD, and in terms of cybersecurity by NIS2 and DORA.”

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