Salesforce (credit image/PIxabay/Brian Merrill)Salesforce released data that 38% of UK workers are already using or planning to use generative AI in their jobs. Most of these workers (62%), however, say they lack skills to use these technologies accurately and safely. While these workers rank better service for customers and the potential to save up to 3.5 hours per week on tasks among the benefits of using generative AI, they are wary of trust and security risks.

Many cite bias (58%) and inaccuracies (46%) in generative AI outputs as concerns. The lack of human contextual knowledge (70%) and human creativity (66%) as demonstrating the need for human input and control.

“Generative AI is the most important technological breakthrough of our lifetime, revolutionising how businesses interact with customers. But its potential will only be realised if we put trust and safety at the centre of this technology. This starts with managing data. Pulling from data sources that are relevant, representative, and complete,” said Zahra Bahrolouloumi, CEO, Salesforce UKI.

Salesforce has recently introduced AI Cloud to help organisations incorporate trusted generative AI into every part of their business. Addressing data privacy and security concerns, Salesforce says Einstein Trust layer safeguards sensitive data within generative AI apps and workflows. The company says this prevents it from leaving customers’ trust boundaries.

The need for trusted data and security skills

Previous Salesforce research showed just 1 in 10 UK workers feel they have AI skills. These findings highlight how generative AI skills shortages are felt across organisations. 67% of workers are concerned their broader teams do not have the skills to use generative AI effectively and safely. 69% feel employers do not know how to get the most value out of these technologies for their business.

Democratising AI skills is an essential step toward effective enterprise use of generative AI. However the confidence to deploy these technologies responsibly varies significantly between leadership and individual contributors. Whereas 77% of UK C-suite and 67% managing director-level respondents say they are confident. Only around a third of senior managers (35%) and junior managers (29%) respectively share this sentiment.

Supporting the transition to new technology

Employees are looking to their employers to support them in the transition to this new technology. Most (79%) say that their employers do not provide any form of generative AI training. 55% would like their employers to provide them with these opportunities.
Salesforce is urging UK business and government to work together to establish a national online digital skills platform to show people where to access the training they need. The company is providing skills-based training modules on Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform. Its new trail, Get Started with Artificial Intelligence, takes users through the basics of how AI works. In addition to how they can use it to increase their performance.

(Credit image/LinkedIn/Zahra Bahrololoumi)
Zahra Bahrololoumi, Salesforce UKI CEO

AI has the power to transform how work gets done, but it is only as good as the data it is trained on. Without high-quality, trusted data, it becomes ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ To stay competitive and drive long-term transformation for their customers and business, organisations need highly skilled people to use trusted data sources and ensure sensitive data is kept secure. The need to proritise upskilling at every level has never been more clear nor urgent,” added Bahrolouloumi.

Research methodology

Salesforce conducted a generative AI survey in partnership with YouGov May 18 – 25, 2023. The data reflects responses from 1,384 full-time UK employees across sales, service, marketing, and commerce. The respondents represent companies of a variety of sizes and sectors. The survey took place online. The figures are representative of working adult populations (ages 18+).

Enterprise Times: What this means for business

Zahra Bahrolouloumi is correct in identifying trust as the major stumbling block to enterprises more wholeheartedly embracing AI. Data is the foundation of AI. Many organisations, irrespective of size and sector, continue to have major challenges regarding the collating, management and intelligent use data. As Salesforce’s own research suggests, democratising AI skills is crucial for enterprises to effectively use generative AI. However, the confidence to deploy these technologies responsibly varies significantly between leadership and individual contributors. The missing ingredient in Salesforce’s approach to supporting the embrace of AI, is the change management. The fundamental cultural changes many enterprises need to make to ensure data and, therefore, AI takes root within an organisation.

Is AI and specifically generative AI the latest sexy buzzword in technology and the current object of desire for all enterprises looking to grow rapidly? Definitely yes! The fundamental challenge will be for to enterprises understand the efforts and commitment needed to truly implement generative AI. It is these cultural changes that Salesforce’s research fails to address, but still remains difficult to assess.

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