Just two-fifths of IT professionals say they fully understand how AI tools work

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Despite artificial intelligence (AI) hitting new heights in 2023, only two-fifths (22%) of surveyed IT professionals can say they fully understand how AI tools work — according to new research from SolarWinds.

The research, based on a survey of 267 IT professionals, highlights this lack of understanding could be fuelling a disconnect between the perceptions and the reality of AI tool usage.

While over half (55%) of IT professionals surveyed believe that AI tools will make their jobs easier, and most (90%) believe their colleagues would embrace such tools, the majority (62%) are not currently using AI day to day.

Of those who are already taking advantage of AI tools, the findings show that their usage is limited to more basic functions than might be expected. Information gathering and research is the most common use — with over a quarter (28%) using it for this purpose. In a similar vein, 18% use AI tools to help explain complex topics to non-technical colleagues.

A further 14% use AI tools to create documents for internal use, but that number falls to less than one in 10 (9%) when creating documents for external use.

When it comes to more technical capabilities, however, just 16% of those who use AI tools do so to write code. While a tiny 6% use AI to identify flaws and security vulnerabilities in code, this signals it might not all be down to limited understanding — lack of confidence in AI tools, or company guidelines, may also be limiting the use of AI for more complex tasks.

SolarWinds Tech Evangelist Sascha Giese, commented on the findings: “AI has the potential to transform the lives of IT professionals — and many are aware of this. So it might come as a surprise that the majority aren’t using any AI tools to assist with their job.

“Clearly, there is still a general sense of mystery surrounding AI tools, even from those in more technical roles. Therefore, if businesses want to reap the efficiency rewards AI has to offer and channel savings into innovation, they must invest in education and training. Only with a clear understanding of the inner workings of AI tools, specific use cases, and best practices will IT teams confidently adopt AI tools in their day-to-day role.

“Going forward, transparency over AI concerns and a collaborative, open discussion between the C-suite and IT teams is the only way to speed up the adoption of these transformative tools.”

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