Storm Technology survey says 63% of businesses in Ireland to increase AI spend in 2024

Storm Technology, the market-leading digital solutions provider, has revealed the findings of its survey which found that 63% of businesses in Ireland are to increase their spend on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2024.

The research – involving more than 100 IT leaders and decision-makers across larger enterprises and organisation across Ireland – found that the companies investing in AI this year expect to spend an average of €436,500, which indicates a significant increase of 45% compared to the average estimated spend of €301,700 in 2023.

Driving this, 59% of IT leaders think their company needs to adopt AI to be competitive over the next three years and 46% of respondents believe their organisation will lose market share/competitive advantage in the next three years if they do not invest effectively in AI.

However, not everyone is bought into the trend with almost half (49%) of IT leaders saying their senior management does not fully understand the potential of AI. Despite this, some three quarters (75%) of organisations in Ireland are considering or already using AI to some degree.

Delving deeper into this, less than a quarter (24%) are using it in a limited manner with a clear strategy. Meanwhile, some 15% of enterprises are using AI for certain business areas but without a clear strategy.

In terms of where businesses in Ireland are currently leveraging AI, 68% implement it for customer service, while 42% apply it to assist with their operations and 38% are deploying it for cross-functional daily tasks.

Improved staff productivity was the top cited benefit of AI, with well over half (59%) of respondents seeing it as an advantage. The other main benefits were found to be improved processes/workflows (56%), enhanced customer service (52%), reduced operating costs (44%), andimproved data analytics/reporting (34%).

In terms of top priority areas for IT spend this year, AI ranked in the top five (36%). Cybersecurity ranked highest with 70% of IT leaders set to prioritise this area. Cloud infrastructure (51%) and business applications like ERP (41%) finished off the top three priority areas for IT spend in 2024.

Meanwhile, investing in collaboration and productivity tools is only a top priority for 34% of IT leaders. This has fallen considerably compared to a similar survey conducted by Storm Technology last year, when 69% were investing in this area.

As for the biggest obstacles to productivity in the workplace, the most prominent were found to be relying on manual processes (53%), concerns about security protocols (48%), and lack of effective IT solutions (42%). Some 37% also cited inability to disconnect/switch off, while 27% said working longer hours and a quarter (25%) said virtual meeting overload.

Enabling productivity (59%) was the leading factor driving the modernisation of the workplace, followed by optimising operational processes (58%), driving business growth (52%), and enhancing service delivery/customer service (52%). Compared to last year, far fewer organisations are modernising the workplace in order to create a 100% remote working environment – 27% last year compared to just 11% this year.

Karl Flannery, CEO, Storm Technology, said: “The modern workplace continues to evolve with AI coming ever more to the fore. While our research shows that investment in such technologies is rising and adopting same can unlock multiple benefits for businesses, management buy-in and strategic planning appear to be lacking.

“If Irish organisations truly want to capitalise on the potential that AI offers, they need to deploy not just the solutions that fit their business needs, but also build out the processes and protocols to effectively and ethically manage it – thus establishing trust with staff, customers and suppliers.

“By investing cleverly and leveraging expert partners, companies can drive innovation and growth by helping staff to be more productive, enhancing creativity and delivering a better customer experience, ultimately reducing operating costs. This will not only make them stand out from the competition but future-proof their business.”

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