A majority of business leaders believe humans should be involved in artificial intelligence (AI) decision-making, citing ethical and data concerns.

This is among results from a Workday study examining the state of AI in the enterprise, including the current perception among business leaders about the technology’s benefits, challenges, and opportunities.

Key findings from the survey include:

* 93% of business leaders believe humans should be involved in artificial intelligence decision-making.

* 77% of respondents are concerned about the timeliness or reliability of the underlying data.

* 29% said they are very confident that AI and machine learning (ML) are being applied ethically in business.

* 73% of business leaders are feeling pressure to implement AI at their organisations.

* 80% agree AI and ML helps employees work more efficiently and make better decisions.

* 72% of respondents said their organisation lacks the skills to fully implement AI and ML.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of business leaders are feeling pressure to implement AI at their organisations, but the vast majority are wary of giving up too much decision-making power. In the survey of 1 000 business decision-makers from around the globe, 93% said it’s important for humans to have oversight of AI or machine learning (ML) when making significant decisions.

“Our latest study confirms that AI & ML are essential for achieving success in the evolving landscape of work – this view is shared by the majority of business leaders globally. However, the organisations face difficulties with deploying these technologies because of skills deficit,” says Jens L√∂hmar, chief technology officer: continental & DACH at Workday.

“Operationalisation of AI and ML strategies also slows down due to ethical concerns, lack of data integrity and addressing employee fears that these technologies may displace jobs. To effectively embrace AI and ML, it is crucial to prioritise augmentation of human insight & decision making as well as collaborate with vendors who demonstrate a dedication to responsible AI practices and data integrity.”

More than 90% of respondents said they currently use artificial intelligence within their operations for managing people, money, or both, and 80% agree AI and ML helps employees work more efficiently and make better decisions. The need for investment in this area is clear: 80% of respondents agree that AI and ML are required to keep their business competitive.

But, despite widespread adoption and broad agreement around the case for AI and ML in the enterprise, concerns remain about its accuracy, ethics, and security. In fact, 77% of respondents are concerned about the timeliness or reliability of the underlying data, 39% consider potential bias to be a top risk when considering AI, and 48% cite security and privacy concerns as the main barriers to implementation.

Only 29% said they are very confident that AI/ML are being applied ethically in business right now, but they are more optimistic about the future – with more than half (52%) saying they are very confident it will be applied ethically in five years’ time.

Business leaders are considering AI’s impact on the workforce of today and tomorrow. Nearly half (45%) believe AI and ML will benefit workers, augmenting workloads and creating new career paths. 43% are more cautious, warning that AI and ML will replace some tasks, causing some unemployment among workers. Twelve percent are more doubtful, saying that AI and ML will replace humans completely and have a negative impact on workers.

While leaders agree it is critical for humans to be involved in AI decision making, the survey also found a critical skills gap to successful AI implementation. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents said their organisation lacks the skills to fully implement AI and ML, and an even slightly higher percentage (76%) said their own knowledge of AI and ML applications needs improvement.