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Generative AI in Ireland 2024 – Trends and Insights

Kieran McCorry

Kieran McCorry

National Technology Officer

Read Time, 5 min.

Generative AI adoption rates are on the rise in workplaces according to our latest report, in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin

AI is a defining technology of our time, comparable to the advent of the light bulb or the printing press, and will transform and augment how we work, create, and collaborate.

Generative AI, as many of you will already know, is a technology that can create new content, like text, imagery, audio, and more, using natural language prompts. It uses data to build models (Large Language Models) that recognise patterns in the data to produce new original content.

While we’re still at the early stages in the generative AI evolution, we wanted to understand how organisations in Ireland are currently positioned in order to share a nationwide cross-industry assessment of readiness for AI transformation,.

Produced by Trinity College Dublin’s Business School, on behalf of Microsoft Ireland, the report involved a survey of 400 senior managers across both the public and private sectors in Ireland. It assesses the uptake, sentiment, and future trends of generative AI at this early stage of its evolution.

Key Insights:

  • Our Microsoft Ireland report reveals that 49% of organisations are already using generative AI in some form at this early stage of availability.
  • 47% of organisations believe the technology will enhance productivity, contrasting with only 17% holding opposing views.
  • Those with a generative AI-first policy (company-wide approach) feel there are more benefits, such as productivity increases, from generative AI (71%) compared to firms that prohibit generative AI use.
  • A shadow generative AI culture is emerging – 27% of leaders are using publicly available or free generative AI in their role and 25% believe their employees are doing the same – while 8% are aware employees use free generative AI software in direct contravention of their organisation’s policy.
  • A key takeaway by Trinity College Dublin’s Business School suggests Ireland is at a crossroads, and first mover advantage is now crucial to capitalise on its position as a global technology hub and drive competitiveness through AI innovation.

Irish organisations have a unique opportunity to tap into our status as a multinational hub and become leaders in generative AI to deliver local economic growth.

Growing adoption

Today’s publication points to rising adoption rates of generative AI solutions within Irish workplaces – with 49% highlighting generative AI being used in some form within their organisation.

The survey showed that the sectors with the highest planned adoption rates are technology, science, and media, while the agriculture, transport, and utilities sectors appear to be further behind in their generative AI adoption journey.

Importantly, the research also indicates that indigenous Irish organisations might be falling behind multinational organisations based in Ireland, who use 30% more generative AI. This is only the start, however, there’s still time to be early adopters and harness the innovative potential of AI.

Shadow AI workplace culture emerging

Interestingly, the report points to an emerging phenomenon, a shadow AI Culture, that leaders need to be cognisant of. A quarter of leaders say they are aware that some employees within their organisations are using publicly available generative AI tools, and 27% admit to doing so themselves, rather than using enterprise-grade solutions with in-built content safety controls and data protection.  Additionally, 8% of respondents highlighted awareness of employees knowingly using generative AI software in contravention to the organisation’s policy. This trend will only continue to grow, with employees seeking workarounds and using publicly available tools that are not aligned to company policy and that don’t have privacy, security, and data protection controls.

Potential for Ireland to leverage generative AI innovation and advance its position as a digital leader in Europe

Elsewhere, the report concludes that organisations that have been first movers in the space of generative AI and use a generative AI-first policy see many more benefits and productivity increases (71%) compared to firms that prohibit generative AI (42%). These firms also see higher productivity and innovation potential in their employees, in addition to providing higher training, internal resources, and finances to support the transition.

The report identifies that a proactive approach underscores the critical importance of embracing transformative innovation as a means to surpass competitors, reach sustainability goals, explore untapped markets, and reshape industry norms. This is believed to be crucial for Ireland to leverage AI innovation and become a leading digital economy in Europe and beyond.

Beyond the Insights: To deliver sustainable value from generative AI investments, organisations in Ireland should consider the following recommendations:

  • Address the skills gap: A strategic approach to generative AI requires not only technology, data, and expertise, but also calls for business domain knowledge and change management skills. The report highlights that more education and support is required for organisations, especially SMEs.
  • Transformative versus incremental innovation: Organisations can innovate and transform using generative AI — but they will only invest if AI moves the needle on metrics that matter in the short-term. However, a visionary approach, and a deeper assessment of the benefits of AI to transform an organisation and shape their digital destiny is required, particularly in the public sector which is under pressure to provide higher quality public services to citizens.
  • Leverage platforms and providers that take responsibility and security seriously: Train and educate decision-makers around the issues of data privacy and legal issues related to the use of generative AI. Our research indicates this to be an area of concern for many business leaders. Leverage platforms that take responsibility for data storage and with enterprise-grade security to prepare for possible future regulations, customer data security, and allay fears of business leaders.

Click here to consult the Microsoft Generative AI in Ireland 2024 Infographic.

Microsoft AI

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