Why IT needs to be in the driver’s seat with generative AI

It wasn’t that long ago that the cloud transformed the IT world. For some, this transformation played to their strengths. Others took it as a wake-up call. After all, the swipe-your-credit-card-and-go era demonstrated that developers could leap-frog procurement cycles to gain access to what they desired: abundant access to cloud resources. Either way, IT ultimately did what it does best: established controls and governance and gave teams what they needed: access to rich resources while keeping a close eye on security and costs. In some ways, the rise of generative AI has echoed the emergence of cloud—only at a far more accelerated pace.

The upsides are palpable. Imagine the potential for transformation across all layers of an organization. Knowledge workers suddenly have access to powerful content creation engines. Users can tap into previously unimagined productivity workflows. Low- and no-code solutions are more widely accessible than ever. GenAI brings accessibility to things that once required specialized skillsets—like data science knowledge or coding—to a broader set of workers than ever thought possible.

But at the same time IT is imagining these possibilities, the inevitable stomachache is also brewing: how does IT govern and secure it all—especially when the scope of management extends far beyond developers to, well, everyone inside an organization?

For some organizations, the solution has been to temporarily hit the pause button on GenAI until they can determine the best way to secure and govern. This is an understandable, but flawed way of thinking. It solves the fear of data leakage but deprives an organization of the opportunity to adopt, apply, and innovate with these technologies in this crucial germination period. Because whether or not these organizations are embracing GenAI right now, you can bet their competitors are.

Why IT organizations must act now to address GenAI

The good news is organizations have an opportunity today to learn lessons from the rise of cloud computing. And chief among them is that the time is now for IT to get into the driver’s seat with generative AI. This shifts IT from being a cost center to a driver of innovation for the company.

There are so many reasons why IT should already be leading this conversation. We already know ad-hoc usage within organizations is growing—in a recent study, for example, 56% of workers admitted to using GenAI on the job but only 26% said their organization had a GenAI policy.1 If IT organizations are not afraid of shadow AI yet, they should be. In some ways, IT organizations could think of GenAI usage like an approaching tidal wave. For now, they’re managing, but as GenAI use becomes more ubiquitous, the stakes become more extreme.

5 steps to getting into the driver’s seat with GenAI

So what can IT leaders do? Make the choice to ride the wave instead of getting crushed by it. Here are five steps you can take today to get started.

Educate yourself

Choose to become the most knowledgeable person in the room on generative AI. Start actively educating yourself not just on how to embrace and adopt the technologies from an infrastructure standpoint, but how to use them yourself. There’s nothing more credible than a leader that understands GenAI from hardware in a datacenter to a prompt window on a laptop.

Move into the driver’s seat now

Establish a plan for how you’re going to protect your organization’s IP and data without roadblocking access to generative AI. For many organizations, this will be a hybrid or on-premises approach to embracing these technologies—82% are pursuing on-premises or hybrid approaches according to a recent Dell Survey.2 This means having a plan that provides users access to the GenAI solutions they want with a standardized set of technologies that gives your organization the ability to manage, run, and protect on the backend, thereby circumventing the specter of shadow AI. This also sets you up to capitalize on other advantages, like more control over costs and energy consumption. But the time to act is now, as GenAI usage is up to nearly 49% of the general population, according to Salesforce3 —and that number is growing.

Determine priority use cases

Work with business counterparts to identify the full scope of use cases across the organization. This process can be clarifying—for example, you may find multiple use cases can be addressed by a single solution, sometimes even leveraging common architectures and data sets. From here, prioritize which use cases are the best candidates for pilots or proofs of concepts and align on the ones that have the highest value and are most likely to deliver quick wins.

Understanding a proof of concept on premises is easier than you think

If you’re thinking a GenAI POC means months-long procurement cycles or substantial deployments, know now that’s not necessarily the case. Depending on the use case you’ve identified and the size of data you’re working with, it may be possible to stand up a proof of concept by repurposing existing hardware and using open source models. For example, at Dell we spend a lot of time showing organizations how to deploy retrieval augmented generation (RAG) on their own infrastructure—and we provide the sample code to help them get started quickly.

Realize you have a role to play in helping users make the most of GenAI

IT can be forgiven for focusing on the massive undertaking that is getting GenAI into users’ hands. But there is another part of the job that is no less important: ensuring users know what to do with it. It’s both the promise and the challenge of generative AI that impacts all levels of an organization. This makes training and education a critical role in GenAI adoption. And as a technology-driven transformation, IT must be part of the educational aspect of GenAI’s roll-out. No group inside an organization is better trained and more equipped to explain the nuances of GenAI to everyday users than IT, and nobody can help users better understand how to harness it for company-wide innovation.

The time to act is now

As the organization that manages, oversees, and maintains the infrastructure that runs companies, IT is in a central position during a time of technology disruption impacting all levels of business. Some organizations already heeded the call—20% of IT organizations are well-established with GenAI solutions, rolling out tools to end users and onboarding with training according to a recent study conducted by Dell4. Some are even using GenAI to drive transformation initiatives within their own walls and data centers.

No matter where you are in your GenAI journey, the steps above can help. And if you need more guidance, enlisting the support of partners can get you there faster. At Dell, we work with organizations every day to help them identify use cases, put solutions in place, increase adoption, and even train internal users to speed up innovation.

To learn more, visit dell.com/ai.

1 Survey: Majority of US Workers Are Already Using Generative AI Tools, But Company Policies Trail Behind

2 Generative AI Pulse Survey, September 2023, Dell Technologies

3 The AI Divide, Salesforce, September 2023

4 Generative AI Pulse Survey, September 2023, Dell Technologies

Artificial Intelligence