More than half (55%) of organisations now have an AI board, according to a recent Gartner poll of more than 1 800 executives.

The survey also indicated 54% of organisations have a head of AI or an AI leader to orchestrate activities.

“The findings show that organisations are divided regarding if an AI board is necessary,” says Frances Karamouzis, distinguished vice-president analyst at Gartner. “The answer is yes, enterprises need an AI board to transcend the multidisciplinary challenges to drive value and reduce risk. However, the duration, scope, and resourcing is 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.”

Accountability for AI is spread out. Additionally, some organizations are decentralized, siloed or unclear as to where AI initiatives should lie. When asked who is accountable for AI initiatives, only a quarter of respondents aligned to a clear role.

“AI board member composition should have representation from multiple disciplines and cross business units,” says Karamouzis. “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.”

When asked to identify the top three focuses of the board remit, 26% of executives identified governance, and another 21% indicated strategy should be one of the primary focuses.

“The board member composition should align expertise with the scope of the remit,” says Karamouzis. “Board members should be senior level and seasoned executives with strong skills in strategy and execution, especially if they have GenAI ambitions.”

Of the 54% of executive leaders who indicated their organisation had a head of AI, or an AI leader, 88% said that their AI leader did not have the title of chief AI officer (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 do want an AI leader who is responsible for AI orchestration.

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