Does your organization lack AI leadership?

A survey of Canadian CFOs shows a lack of confidence in the expertise available to implement the technology.

Marketers have long touted the possibilities artificial intelligence could unlock within their companies, but adoption of the technology remains low in Canada. A new survey suggests that could be a result of boards and company leadership not having the necessary expertise to do so successfully.

Among the 100 CFOs polled by global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson and the Institute of Corporate Directors, 49% believe digital transformation is “critical,” with 30% deeming it at least “important” to future growth of their organization.

However, only 11% said they felt prepared for this shift. When it came to AI specifically, 27% said they were confident in their ability to implement the technology, but 25% said they were “on the fence,” 24% said they were concerned and 14% said they were “terrified.”

The report attributes this apprehension to a lack of confidence in talent available to them, especially at the most senior levels: 70% of respondents said they weren’t confident that their board could “support an AI transformation strategy, while 43% said there was a lack of expertise within company leadership to introduce the technology. The latter was the top concern they had when it came to implementation, with only 20% saying they weren’t confident in the return on investment, 19% were concerned with data governance, 11% cited a lack of support from their CEO and/or board and 8% cited privacy concerns.

“There is a clear gap when it comes to the opportunities presented by AI and an organization being ready to harness the power of the technology,” said Ross Woledge, partner at Odgers Berndtson and head of its CFO practice, in a press release. Beyond talent and expertise concerns, he also pointed to another common hurdle when it comes to AI, one that’s often heard from marketing departments: substandard data practices. “On one hand, CFOs see a tremendous value creation opportunity with respect to AI, yet on the other, face a daunting challenge of legacy systems and disorganized data which will hamper their ability to leverage the technology.”