More than four in ten IT leaders surveyed globally (42 per cent) believe their existing IT infrastructure is not fully prepared for the demands of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, despite its widespread adoption across industries, according to the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey.
The survey, which examined IT leaders’ responses to AI advances in their organisations, comes after a year of significant AI breakthroughs that has seen the technology rapidly deployed in applications across both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors.
“Tech leaders globally are expediting AI’s integration into their organisations, and it is increasingly becoming a critical capability to enable intelligent and autonomous systems that power a modern business. Those who fail to maximise its use could fall behind,” said Kaladhar Voruganti, senior technologist at Equinix.
The survey confirmed AI uptake is on the rise across all industry sectors, with 85 per cent of the 2,900 IT decision-makers polled worldwide seeking to benefit from the advantages of AI and already using or planning to use it across multiple key functions. EMEA Organisations are most likely to be using AI, or planning to do so, in IT operations (82 per cent), followed by cybersecurity (79 per cent), and customer experience (75 per cent).
“Successful development of accurate AI models depends upon secure and high-speed access to both internal and external data sources that can be spread across multiple clouds and data brokers,” added Voruganti. “For example, as enterprises embark on creating their own private generative AI solutions, they may want to process their confidential data at a private and secure location with high-speed access to external data sources and AI models.
“Furthermore, we are entering an era where more data is being generated at the edge. Hence, AI processing has to move to the edge for performance, privacy and cost reasons. In order to satisfy the above requirements, tech leaders can implement hybrid solutions where AI model training and model inference can occur at different locations. Ultimately, to create scalable AI solutions, businesses must consider whether their IT frameworks can accommodate the required data ingestion, sharing, storage and processing of massive and diverse data sets, while keeping sustainability in mind.”
On implementing complex AI strategies, Aengus Tran, CEO & Co-Founder at harrison.ai, noted: “Secure hosting of our compute and data storage platforms is our highest technical priority as we build AI solutions for clinicians across the world. We rely on an extremely fast and direct connection to enable hybrid cloud models as required to move remarkably large data sets on which we train and develop our AI solutions. This digital infrastructure enables us to tackle bigger healthcare problems—from medical imaging solutions to new AI healthcare solutions requiring more data and processing—helping to improve the standard of global healthcare and achieve our vision to impact one million lives per day.”
IT leaders in EMEA had the most uncertainty about the ability of their infrastructure to accommodate the needs of AI (49 per cent), compared to leaders in Asia-Pacific (44 per cent) and the Americas (32 per cent).
“At Equinix, we understand the critical significance of education and collaboration in empowering technology leaders to effectively bolster the AI strategies necessary for future business triumph. The recent survey emphasises the need for improved infrastructure and skills related to AI, particularly in the EMEA region. It is concerning that IT leaders in this region express discomfort with their infrastructure and team’s ability in accommodating AI,” noted Bruce Owen, Equinix UK Managing Director.
“The survey reveals additional challenges faced by the tech sector as a whole in the EMEA region with 44 per cent of IT leaders fearing the speed at which the tech industry is transforming and 39 per cent of them believing that one of the most significant skills challenge is the lack of available talent. These findings highlight the pressing need for developing and retaining skilled professionals in the industry.”
In addition to digital infrastructure updates, the survey also highlighted the need for education and collaboration to enable IT teams to optimise the deployment of this infrastructure, with AI and machine learning expertise being sought by 37 per cent of those growing their IT teams.