Even as the popularity of generative AI continues to grow, there is an urgent need for enterprises to clearly define policies to prevent employees from using unauthorised tools, which can potentially put businesses at risk. This is a key result of the recent Salesforce survey of around 14,000 full-time in 14 countries.
A little over a quarter (28 per cent) of workers are using generative AI at work and over half of them are using it without any approval or authorisation from their employers, the survey revealed. Significantly, another 32 per cent of those surveyed said they plan to start using generative AI soon. The survey was conducted as part of the Generative AI Snapshot Research Series, “The Promises and Pitfalls of AI at Work.”
A key reason for the growing usage of generative AI is the realisation that it significantly helps increase employee productivity. The users of generative AI realise its importance, with 71 per cent saying that it makes them more productive at work and 58 per cent believing that the technology makes them more engaged at work.
Interestingly, almost 50 per cent of the surveyed employees said developing expertise in generative AI will help increase their job satisfaction, make them more sought after at the workplace and improve their earnings.
All this bodes well for the growth of the technology. Generative AI can potentially add US$2.6 trillion to US$4.4 trillion annually to the global economy, according to McKinsey.
Lack of policies makes enterprises vulnerable to security risks
Even as the usage of generative AI continues to rise, the lack of policies and clarity on the safe and authorised tools is increasing the security risks for enterprises. In a survey conducted by Salesforce earlier this year, 73 per cent of the respondents said they believed that generative AI comes with security risks. Inaccurate results, coupled with infringement of intellectual property rights, are some of the other risks related to generative AI.
The usage of unauthorised and banned generative AI tools was highest in India, with 64 per cent of surveyed employees across industries using them to advance their careers, the Salesforce survey said. On the other hand, the Netherlands recorded the lowest usage of unauthorised generative AI tools, with just 43 per cent of surveyed employees using them.
The lack of clearly defined usage policies is making enterprises vulnerable to these risks and preventing them from realising the vast potential of generative AI. About 79 per cent of the companies do not have clearly defined policies regarding the usage of generative AI, according to the Salesforce survey. Out of these, 15 per cent have loosely defined policies for using generative AI for work and 37 per cent of those surveyed have no policies on using generative AI at work and the remaining 27 per cent have no idea.
Unethical use of generative AI
As the usage of unauthorised generative AI increases, employees are engaging in unethical activities including passing AI-generated work as their own. Nearly 64 per cent of those surveyed passed off generative AI work as their own and 41 per cent of the workers may consider overstating their generative AI skills to secure a work opportunity.
A significant lacuna emerging in the Salesforce survey is the lack of training. Nearly 70 per cent of the workers have neither completed nor received any training on using generative AI safely and ethically at work. “With clear guidelines, employees will be able to understand and address AI’s risks while also harnessing its innovations to supercharge their careers,” Paula Goldman, chief ethical and humane use officer at Salesforce, said in a blog post.