The growth of shadow AI use in the workplace

Tuesday, 05 December, 2023

The growth of shadow AI use in the workplace

A new AI study has found that 63% of respondents actively use AI in the workplace, but only 36% of organisations expressly permit it.

Nearly two-thirds of employees in Australia and New Zealand (63%) are using AI in the workplace, despite only 11% of organisations having a formal policy in place permitting its use, research suggests.

The results of a survey published by ISACA, the professional association for IT governance, show that employees in the two countries are already using AI to create written content (51%), increase productivity (37%), automate repetitive tasks (37%), improve decision-making (29%) and provide customer service (20%).

But only 36% of ANZ organisations expressly permit the use of generative AI, only 11% have a formal comprehensive policy in place and 21% say their organisations have no plans to introduce such a policy.

Likewise, only 4% of respondents’ organisations are providing training to all staff on AI, with 57% saying that no AI training is provided at all, even to teams directly impacted by the technology.

Such findings mirror concerns over shadow IT, or the use of IT-related hardware and software by employees without the knowledge of the IT department of security group.

ISACA Oceania ambassador Jo Stewart-Rattray said such a situation could be putting organisations at risk.

“As employees across the nation increasingly explore AI in the workplace — some initially out of curiosity — organisations must prioritise policies and governance frameworks addressing ethical, privacy and security concerns, to name a few,” she said. “There is an urgent need to address the inevitable risks AI will generate, without stunting innovation and the benefits this technology brings.”

Rather than seeking to prevent the use of AI in the workplace, organisations should be seeking to put guardrails around the use of the technology to ensure the security of corporate data and to ensure there are formal governance guidelines in place, Stewart-Rattray said.

“Employees are not waiting for permission to explore and leverage generative AI to bring value to their work, and it is clear that their organisations need to catch up in providing policies, guidance and training to ensure the technology is used appropriately and ethically,” said Jason Lau, ISACA board director and CISO at “With greater alignment between employers and their staff around generative AI, organisations will be able to drive increased understanding of the technology among their teams, gain further benefit from AI and better protect themselves from related risk.”

The survey also found that 40% of employees believe that a significant number of jobs will be eliminated due to AI.

Despite such fears, 76% of respondents believe AI will have a positive or neutral impact on their industry, 79% believe it will have a positive or neutral impact on their organisations and 85% believe it will have a positive or neutral impact on their careers.

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