The rise of BYOAI (Bring Your Own AI)

And the Importance of an AI Strategy

MAY 2024

Summary: As many as 75% of employees now employ generative AI technologies at work, often adopting a "Bring Your Own AI" (BYOAI) approach due to a significant shortfall in formal AI policies and corporate AI strategies—with fewer than 20% of businesses providing such guidance. This gap not only promotes the BYOAI trend but also introduces significant challenges in equity, privacy, data protection, and usage regulations. Establishing a comprehensive AI strategy is critical for companies to guide the integration of AI, align its use across departments, and minimize associated risks effectively.

Whether businesses like it or not, employees are using generative AI to help them at work.

75% of global knowledge workers are now using generative AI at work.¹ And yet 80% of businesses don't have an AI policy, 60% don't offer training, and 40% of businesses lack any AI plan whatsoever.

The result?

78% of AI users are engaging in BYOAI: Bring Your Own AI.

This is the rise of employees using their personal AI tools at work to enhance productivity and solve complex tasks. This practice echoes the earlier trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) but potentially carries more profound implications for corporate strategy and security. As generative AI technologies become more integrated into everyday tasks, employees across organizational levels are adopting these tools, driven by the desire for increased efficiency and personalization in their work.

The adoption of AI in the workplace has skyrocketed, with new research revealing that AI use by global knowledge workers has doubled in just six months. 

This is unsurprising. 

Research by MIT has demonstrated that AI can boost productivity by anywhere from 20% to 70%.² And of those knowledge workers using AI to help

These statistics illustrate a significant increase in AI utilization, which continues to grow as more employees discover the benefits of AI tools for personal and professional use, and more AI tools become available at lower costs.

The potential benefits of BYOAI are substantial. Allowing individuals to select their own AI toolkit enables a more personalized approach to technology in the workplace, catering to the specific needs and styles of each employee, team, or department. This customization leads to greater autonomy (closely linked to job satisfaction), fosters innovation, and enhances productivity by enabling employees to work in more effective and enjoyable ways. On top of that, BYOAI avoids the need for enterprise contracts which typically lead to lock-in and resistance to change. Instead, a BYOAI approach encourages employees to try out tools and experiment with technology, a benefit right now as AI is improving so quickly. 

There is a pressing need for organizations
to have a coherent AI strategy

However, the rise of BYOAI also brings with it several risks and drawbacks. Key among these are security challenges, including the potential for data breaches and intellectual property theft as employees use unsanctioned AI tools. There are also risks related to bias and discrimination through AI algorithms, and inappropriate use, which can have severe ethical and compliance implications for companies. Additionally, without proper education and oversight, the consistency of work output can vary, potentially affecting the overall quality and uniformity of deliverables.  Given these complexities, there is a pressing need for organizations to have a coherent AI strategy regardless of whether or not they formally allow BYOAI.

Without a coherent strategy which includes AI policies, employees are left with questions such as:

Additionally, undiscussed BYOAI can lead to inequality, with individuals who have more knowledge, resources, or time able to identify and use superior AI solutions. 52% of individuals are reluctant to admit using AI due to fear of repercussions. But a lack of strategy and transparency also risks generative internal competitiveness, further exacerbating disparities within the workplace.

Companies must navigate the fine line between harnessing the benefits of AI and managing the associated risks. This requires the development of an AI strategy that is based on foundational pillars and a robust policy, that not only guides the use of AI tools but also builds an culture of transparency and innovation. Such a strategy should be created with input from stakeholders at all levels and across all functions, ensuring it's comprehensive and embraced by the workforce.

Despite the potential challenges, it is clear that employees are increasingly using generative AI in the workplace, whether approved or not. 

It is imperative for companies to set a clear strategy and policy that guides safe, appropriate, and effective usage. This will not only safeguard corporate data and ensure compliance but also maximize the benefits of AI, aligning it with broader business goals and employee needs.

°   °   °

At MindPort, we believe that the future of AI lies in its ability to seamlessly integrate into the human experience, enhancing our capabilities and enriching our interactions. Our ongoing research and development efforts aim to ensure organizations adopt AI in a way that prioritizes human values and needs, setting a standard for responsible and innovative AI development.

If you want support developing an AI strategy, or just want to learn more, get in touch. 

°   °   °

Sign up receive our insight & reports straight to your inbox. Always interesting, and never more than once per month. We promise.

¹ The Work Trend Index survey was conducted by independent research firm Edelman Data & Intelligence, among 31,000 full-time employed or self-employed knowledge workers across 31 markets between February 15, 2024 and March 28, 2024. Global markets surveyed include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam. ² MIT. "How generative AI can boost highly skilled workers’ productivity"

Share this Insight: