Anxiety stemming from the rapid advancement of technology has engulfed senior leaders in organisations worldwide, with a staggering 94 percent of them admitting to experiencing what is now termed as “tech anxiety,” according to a comprehensive study conducted by Kin + Carta, a renowned global digital transformation consultancy.
This alarming trend has gained momentum as the pace of digital and technological change continues to accelerate, prompting top executives to ramp up investments in digital transformation initiatives to address their mounting concerns.
The term “tech anxiety” is used to describe the apprehension felt by senior leaders in response to the breakneck speed of technological advancements and the resulting impact on their business operations.
While cyber security remains the primary source of anxiety, cited by 24 percent of the survey respondents, closely following are concerns related to AI and machine learning at 19 percent, and apprehensions about sustainability strategy and tracking at 17 percent.
Investment is growing
Investment in AI and machine learning now stands as the top priority for global companies, with 15 percent of leaders indicating their intent to invest in these areas in the current year. Cybersecurity follows closely behind at 12 percent.
Also, an overwhelming 75 percent of senior leaders believe that increased investment in digital transformation initiatives is imperative within the next 12 months to effectively address and mitigate their tech anxiety. Notably, over half (58 percent) of the respondents plan to allocate more resources in the upcoming year compared to previous years.
These findings are summarised in the “2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech” report, compiled from the insights of 800 senior business leaders in the United States and the United Kingdom. This cohort includes C-suite executives, senior VPs, VPs, directors, and other influential decision-makers within organisations boasting annual turnovers exceeding £800 million or $1 billion in revenue.
What can the management of AI do?
The report elucidates how the ever-accelerating pace of technological change in domains such as AI, data management, and cyber security is keeping leaders across various sectors awake at night. It also elucidates why effectively managing these developments and associated risks has risen to the top of the corporate agenda.
Kin + Carta’s research underscores that the potential disruptions and ethical considerations tied to AI and machine learning are substantial. When delving into specific concerns, the report identifies the top three contributing factors as the speed of technological change at 35 percent, the internal skills gap at 29 percent, and access to the right talent at 28 percent.
Richard Neish, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Kin + Carta, commented on the findings, stating, “Overall, it appears that tech anxiety among leadership is primarily triggered by factors and technologies with the potential to significantly disrupt established ways of working.
“We’ve all seen reports about the huge potential impact of AI, while previously we have seen cloud, mobile, and indeed the birth of the World Wide Web completely alter the way businesses operate. There’s no doubt that technology is moving incredibly quickly, but concerns such as data trust and the internal skills gap can be managed, as long as businesses invest in the right areas.”
As the digital landscape continues to evolve at a breathtaking pace, it is evident that addressing tech anxiety will remain a critical concern for senior leaders. The future lies in their ability to navigate these challenges while harnessing the transformative power of emerging technologies.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.