Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Gartner: 55% of Firms Now Rely on AI Governance Boards

Poll Shows AI Risk Concerns Rising; 25% of CIOs Are Now in Charge of AI Initiatives
Gartner: 55% of Firms Now Rely on AI Governance Boards
Image: Shutterstock

Artificial intelligence governance has become a top priority for businesses, according to a recent Gartner poll. The poll results show that 54% of organizations have a head of AI who is responsible for leading and managing AI initiatives, and 55% of organizations have an AI board, which shows that AI is seen as a strategic enabler for business.

See Also: The Forrester Wave™: Governance, Risk, And Compliance Platforms, Q4 2023

The poll included 1,808 respondents who participated in a Gartner webinar in June 2024 discussing how executive leaders can assess the cost, risk and value of AI and generative AI initiatives. While the results of this poll do not represent global findings or the market as a whole, they offer insights into the current AI governance trends.

Not every organization feels the need to have an AI board, and some are divided on the topic, said Frances Karamouzis, distinguished vice president analyst at Gartner.

"Enterprises need an AI board to transcend the multidisciplinary challenges to drive value and reduce risk. But the duration, scope and resourcing are context-specific and use-case dependent. For some, it's a short-term, stopgap measure. For others, it's a longer-term change to their operating model," Karamouzis said.

Accountability for AI

The establishment of AI boards represents a crucial step in ensuring responsible development and deployment of AI technologies. These boards serve multiple purposes, including overseeing governance to reduce risk in the best interests of shareholders, driving strategic AI initiatives and ensuring ethical AI practices across the organization.

In most organizations, an existing C-suite leader takes on the responsibility of overseeing AI initiatives. The poll shows that tech leaders seem to have already included AI as a part of their responsibilities. AI governance is essential to mitigate risk to business, but when the poll asked who should be held accountable for this within the organization, only 25% of the respondents aligned AI initiatives to the CIO.

Image: Gartner

"AI board member composition should have representation from multiple disciplines and cross-business units," Karamouzis said. "It's up to each organization to determine the best approach to drive speed and agility within their organization to ensure that the board does not get unwieldy and unproductive due to inability to meet or drive consensus."

Twenty-six percent of the respondents said governance should be the board's primary focus, and 21% said it should focus on strategy.

"The board member composition should align expertise with the scope of the remit," Karamouzis said. "Board members should be senior-level and seasoned executives with strong skills in strategy and execution, especially if they have gen AI ambitions."

Rise of the CAIO

C-suite leaders take direction from their board of directors, and most boards do not want to expand the C-suite. Despite this, boards want an AI leader who is responsible for AI orchestration. In most cases, it is not a dedicated role, but a technology leader taking on additional responsibility. In the poll, 88% of the respondents who indicated that their organization had an AI leader said that the head of AI did not have the title of chief AI officer, or CAIO.

"AI and gen AI are complex and far-reaching and touch every job, activity and strategic conversation in the organization," Karamouzis said. "But this does not mean that the people or team responsible for orchestrating AI at an organization have to have a title at the altitude of the C-suite."

U.S. federal agencies are looking for greater accountability. Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget ordered U.S. federal agencies to implement a series of safeguards by December 2024 to ensure that the government uses AI responsibly.

The memo from OMB calls for agencies to designate CAIOs and establish AI governance boards to coordinate and govern the use of the emerging technology across the organization. Agencies also should add more detail to annual reports about which AI tools they use and release government-owned AI code.

Large organizations with a strong focus on AI are appointing CAIOs. A noteworthy example is Dell Technologies, which appointed Jeff Boudreau as its CAIO in October 2023.

Boudreau's role includes overseeing Dell's Center of Innovation and Excellence for AI. His team is responsible for developing Dell's AI strategy and policies, establishing AI partnerships and advocating for secure and ethical AI and gen AI technologies.

"Businesses and governments are considering how AI can be used to drive growth, increase productivity, enhance experiences and accelerate innovation. Some are considering new operation models and data center investments as a result. Hiring for the role of CAIO has risen to prominence as a way for organizations to balance these considerations, evaluate and lead their AI strategies," Boudreau said in a Dell blog post.

By bringing together diverse expertise and focusing on governance and strategy, organizations aim to harness AI's potential while mitigating associated risks. The Gartner poll results suggest that many companies are taking proactive steps in this direction, recognizing the critical role of dedicated AI oversight in today's rapidly evolving technological landscape.

About the Author

Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira

Sr. Director - Editorial, ISMG

Pereira has nearly three decades of journalism experience. He is the former editor of CHIP, InformationWeek and CISO MAG. He has also written for The Times of India and The Indian Express.

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