Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions.

The Center for Digital Education conducted the survey of leaders and IT professionals across the higher education space in the United States and found that around 50% of research universities have a defined strategy for deploying and managing AI technologies. However, only 13.2% say they are mostly or fully prepared to harness the power of AI effectively.

AI’s applications span a wide range in academia, with two use cases leading the way: chatbots (36.8%) and research tools (35.3%). The top five use cases are rounded out by automation of administrative tasks, predictive analytics, and student services (all 29.4%).

“Top research universities are at the forefront of innovation and have led to life-altering inventions like insulin, Wi-Fi technology, and the pacemaker, so getting AI implementation right for these schools is critical,” said Steve Troxel, Public Sector Field Solutions Engineer at SHI. “Having the right policies and guardrails in place makes for the easiest integrations and allows these institutions to take full advantage of the AI systems they’re using.”

According to the survey results, more than 80% of respondents didn’t feel policies had been fully implemented, but 70% were either already using AI or plan to within the next 12 months.

Other key findings from research institutions include:

  • 48.6% either have basic training in place or plan to provide training for their staff
  • Institutions need the most assistance developing an AI funding strategy (47.1%) and identifying available grants (44.1%)
  • Top barriers to implementation include too many competing priorities (36.8%), inadequate funding (36.8%), and lack of AI strategy or ownership (30.9%)
  • Only 16% say their infrastructure is ready for extensive AI integration for students
  • 29.4% have only somewhat or partially implemented data security and privacy measures into their AI systems

"The best thing institutions can do is hop on board the speeding AI train and figure out how to use it to best reach their destination or goal," said Adam Robyak, Field Chief Technology Officer and Principal Engineer at Dell.

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