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How CIOs are planning for an AI-first future

We surveyed more than 1,360 global CIOs to understand their priorities and challenges amid emerging technologies and the new era of AI. Here’s what we learned.

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) is anything but static. From ensuring operational efficiency to keeping pace with emerging technologies like AI, there are more demands than ever on the modern CIO.

The current technological revolution driven by an explosion of AI(opens in a new tab or window) has CIOs constantly exploring and evaluating new apps and platforms. Of course, there’s a galaxy of benefits(opens in a new tab or window) to these ever-growing capabilities – but a different tool for every function quickly becomes expensive and increasingly difficult to manage. Amid this influx of technology, we worked with Harris Poll to understand how CIOs are managing app sprawl (the surge of apps in the workplace) and making decisions about which workplace tools in the AI era will drive the best results.

We learned that 94% of CIOs plan to increase their investment in AI this year, yet 72% are concerned about app sprawl adding to their complexity and security risks. Our survey of more than 1,360 CIOs from nine countries, including the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, and India, provides valuable insights into the priorities of these IT leaders in 2024 and how they’re planning for an AI-first future. Let’s take a look.

Blue background and images of flags with text: We surveyed 1369 CIOs on workplace tools in the AI era

Doing more with less

Today’s CIOs are facing pressure to be more efficient while finding new ways to innovate. Despite wanting fewer tools to pay for or manage, 71% expect to adopt 30-60 new apps in 2024. App sprawl is a challenge for 72% of CIOs, with 30% being very concerned with the additional complexity. The good news is they have a plan to reduce it. To streamline workflows, improve efficiencies, and reduce security risks, 51% plan on some level of tool consolidation, with 24% planning to do so at significant levels.

Blue background and the text: CIOs need to innovate and find efficiencies

Reducing the strain on IT teams

The sharp uptick in apps means IT teams will have more to manage, stretching them even thinner. 64% say they already don’t have enough staff to train employees on new apps, including safe and proper use. 44% say their teams spend more than half of their time educating employees about new technologies. This means time is taken away from contributing to more significant digital transformation goals.

Two people working together at a desk and text saying 64% of IT teams are stretched thin

Innovating sustainably

How can IT leaders keep the wheels of innovation turning with limited resources? Enter AI. Nearly all CIOs (90%) agree that AI tools can dramatically improve both their role and their employees' experience. The benefits of this game-changing technology are widely recognized, from saving time on creative or strategic tasks (52%) to helping consolidate apps (50%) and offering greater insights to guide business decisions (50%).

Yet identifying the right solution in a fragmented marketplace is an obstacle, with 84% saying too many AI tools are flooding the market, causing confusion and overlap for employees.

Blue background and the text: The benefits of AI are clear yet the landscape is fragmented

Overcoming challenges

With 94% planning to increase their spending on AI this year, there’s also a range of risks they’ll need to manage, whether it’s employees following established IT procedures, deploying the technology securely, integration issues, or perpetuating bias in AI-generated content.

Even so, these risks aren’t dampening their enthusiasm, with most ready to leverage the technology. 70% have already established strict guardrails to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI in the workplace. These challenges are also top of mind for Canva, and we’re committed to developing AI-powered solutions that are safe, simple, and secure to use(opens in a new tab or window), particularly for enterprises.

Text saying the risks of AI must be managed to realize its full potential

Our vision for Canva has always been to deliver as many capabilities as possible in one simple platform. These findings indicate this vision is now more important than ever. This makes the proposition for all-in-one, AI-powered platforms all the more compelling. Following the launch of Magic Studio(opens in a new tab or window), we’re seeing incredible ways AI increases productivity and makes creative work easy. Our AI products have been used more than 4 billion times, and we have more than 50 AI-powered apps(opens in a new tab or window), including Imagen by Google Cloud(opens in a new tab or window) and D-ID(opens in a new tab or window), in our marketplace library to power the creative process even further. And we’ve done so with technology that is backed by robust safety and privacy measures through our Canva Shield(opens in a new tab or window) program.

The simplicity of the Canva experience has been key to our growth, and now – just as we did with the design ecosystem – we’re consolidating the fragmented AI tools universe into one interoperable creative platform. We’re so excited about the potential to change the way people work by streamlining the visual communication experience for our community of 170 million active users, including 90% of the Fortune 500 who are embracing our tools to achieve more at work.

As AI continues to captivate and empower business leaders(opens in a new tab or window), CIOs can be agents of change by adopting solutions that help their organizations have a greater impact but with less complexity and cost.

Interested in learning more? Dive into the full Canva CIO Report(opens in a new tab or window) now.

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