More than six in 10 tech leaders in Ireland are not yet investing in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and do not have an AI strategy in place, according to a study by consulting giant EY.

EY, which surveyed 150 senior technology leaders from a broad sweep of organisations based in Ireland, said the majority were not yet turning their “strong interest” in the transformative potential of AI into action.

When it comes to generative AI, 13 per cent of respondents said they were developing or have already developed their own large language models or other tools, while only 6 per cent said their organisation had a formal policy on acceptable usage of unlicensed generative AI tools.

Almost one in five — 18 per cent — said that generative AI tools were prohibited outright, while 59 per cent said unlicensed generative AI was most likely being used by their employees but no formal usage policy was in place.

EY said such “shadow AI” usage risked exposing organisations to data privacy and transparency issues.

Cybersecurity risks, meanwhile, have emerged as the top issue for tech leaders in 2024, with almost four in 10 — 38 per cent — rating this as their most significant challenge.

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Difficulty in attracting and retaining talent was highlighted as the second biggest issue for tech leaders, cited by 37 per cent, although this compared to 45 per cent who reported the same thing in a similar survey a year earlier.

Some 27 per cent said a shortage of skilled employees to implement new technology was a significant barrier to executing their technology-related agenda, up from 18 per cent who reported such concerns in 2023.

“While the growing interest in AI is clear, our research shows that a large majority of organisations have yet to turn this interest into concrete action or develop an AI strategy. Instead, they are focusing on more immediate issues such as cloud migration, cybersecurity and utilising technology to help them with regulatory requirements,” said Ronan Walsh, head of technology consulting at EY Ireland.

The survey was carried out on behalf of EY by Empathy Research during February and March of this year.

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