AI adoption accelerates in Europe but governance lags

More needs to be done to manage potential negative outcomes, says Juniper Networks research

Posted 27 June 2022 by Christine Horton

There has been a big increase in enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) adoption over the last 12 months, according to new research. However, a shortage of human talent still exists, and governance policies continue to lack in maturity.

Both these are needed to responsibly manage AI’s growth when considering privacy issues, regulation compliance, hacking and AI terrorism.

The research by Juniper Networks and Wakefield Research found that enterprises have largely moved past proof-of-concepts and limited trials of AI and are now implementing AI across their organisations, thanks to pandemic-related digital acceleration and the maturation of AI tools available. 

While Juniper’s 2021 report previously showed only six percent of C-level leaders had reported adoption of AI-powered solutions across their organisations (citing technological, skillset and governance challenges), this year, 63 percent of company leaders surveyed say they are at least “most of the way” to their planned AI adoption goals.

European AI/ML leaders recognize that establishing oversight and control across the entire organization is a key component for successful AI adoption. Also, 45 percent of the respondents in Europe think more needs to be done to effectively govern AI as it is applied to more facets of business and life. Additionally, 35 percent of respondents in Europe reported data availability as the most critical component to enable AI adoption across their industry, compared with North American respondents who ranked AI tool capabilities as the most critical component.

AI lacking governance

However, globally, only nine percent of IT leaders (10 percent in Europe) consider their AI governance and policies, such as establishing a company-wide AI leader or responsible AI standards and processes, to be “fully mature.” At the same time, more global leaders see governance as a priority: 95 percent agree having proper AI governance in place is important to stay ahead of future legislation, up from 87 percent in 2021.

Despite leadership recognising the importance of AI governance and having policies in place to manage, govern and maintain, almost half of respondents (48 percent) think more needs to be done to effectively govern AI.

“In recent years, many European governments have stepped in to regulate the collection, storage and usage of data, spurring organisations to take a more proactive approach to internal AI governance to stay ahead of legislation and allow their AI solutions to expand safely. As a result, organisations are developing comprehensive AI and data governance policies to protect against financial and reputational loss. As AI use continues to grow, we will see more being done to effectively govern and secure it,” said Laurence Pitt, global security strategist, Juniper Networks.

Almost all AI/ML leaders (95 percent), globally and in Europe, agree cybersecurity is a critical component to maintaining and securing an enterprise AI solution. Cybersecurity substantially increased in importance as the most critical area for AI adoption: 29 percent said cybersecurity was the most critical to AI adoption in 2022, versus 14 percent in 2021.