Execs plan to invest more in AI this year but implementation barriers remain

Canva's survey found 94% of CIOs plan to increase AI investment, but 72% are concerned about app sprawl and security risks

Executives are planning to increase their investment in artificial intelligence (AI) tools this year, but challenges with deploying the emerging tech are hamstringing those efforts, according to a new survey.

Canva, a graphics design and presentation platform that offers AI tools, and Harris Poll surveyed 1,360 chief information officers (CIOs) from nine countries to gain insights into the executives' plans for deploying AI tools within their organizations and the barriers they have faced in that process.

The survey found that 94% of CIOs plan to increase their investment in AI this year, but 72% are concerned about app sprawl and security risks. CIO respondents also largely expect to add dozens of new apps this year, with 71% indicating they expect to adopt between 30 and 60 new apps in 2024 – although 51% are planning to consolidate tools and 24% plan to do so at significant levels.

"I think 2023 was a good year for experimentation," Canva co-founder and chief product officer Cameron Adams told FOX Business. "There was so much new stuff coming, everyone being unsure firstly about what the technology can do and then secondly, how they're actually going to integrate it into the work that they were doing."


business meeting

Canva's survey found 94% of CIOs plan to increase AI investment, but 72% are concerned about app sprawl and security risks. (iStock / iStock)

"And I think 2024 is really a year to consolidate – you've had a bit of craziness. You've tried out everything, staff have pulled in all these tools and made you aware of them. And now you need to figure out which are the best ones and which are the ones that really work across your entire workflow," Adams added.

"Having to cobble together 10 or 12 different apps from one end of a process to the other isn't viable, so you need to find the providers who are providing real platforms that are offering a whole suite of AI functionality and you're not having to pay per user, per month for 50 different tools to string them all together," he explained.


Canva Logo

Canva's survey found that CIOs are enthusiastic about AI tools despite implementation challenges. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Aside from the financial cost of app sprawl, 64% of CIOs said they already do not have enough IT staff to train employees on the use of new apps, including the safe and proper use of a given tool. Additionally, 44% of CIOs said their IT teams already spend more than half of their time educating employees about new technologies.

"A lot of CIOs are concerned about app sprawl, which is adding complexity and also security risks to how they roll out technology across the company," Adams explained. "Lots of people picking up different apps, maybe they're not particularly sanctioned by the IT team. Then they end up with people using different tools for pretty much the same job."


Canva Magic Studio

Canva is a graphics design and presentation platform that incorporates AI tools into its Magic Studio. (Photo by Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Despite the concerns about app sprawl and other challenges related to the proliferation of AI apps, Adams said that the survey showed that CIOs are optimistic about the potential for AI tools to help boost productivity and streamline workflows for employees.

"CIOs can often be seen as gatekeepers who are trying to hold the tide back, but the overwhelming sentiment that we got from the survey was one of enthusiasm," Adams said. "They're enthusiastic to bring new software tools in and really help people within their organization scale themselves and this applies to AI as well – it's not all about the risks and the worries and the problems."