Taking advantage of the benefits of generative AI and keeping your sensitive business information away from prying eyes has quickly become the unsquareable circle for Australian businesses. However, Debra Sutton, regional vice president & general manager, ANZ at enterprise workflow business WalkMe, explains how businesses can have their generative AI cake and eat it.
In today’s times, ensuring your employees don’t inadvertently give the company secrets away is imperative.
Have you heard about the semiconductor engineers who inadvertently entered confidential source code into ChatGPT to check their work? Yes, it really happened – and the hapless individuals involved, along with all their colleagues at the semiconductor giant, were subsequently banned from using the technology in the workplace.
But is feeding sensitive information into the open maw of the world’s most famous large language chatbot really such an extraordinary blunder? Or are there thousands of other businesses out there whose team members could easily and unthinkingly do the same?
I’d venture to suggest it’s more than likely – and that locking down the enterprise to prevent such security breaches occurring is an issue that hasn’t yet received the attention it requires, from Australia’s business leaders.
Since its public launch in November last year, ChatGPT has thrust AI squarely into mainstream consciousness. The chatbot has enjoyed extraordinary uptake, in large part because of its user-friendly interface and easy free access.
In both the personal and professional spheres, individuals are tapping into its generative powers for a myriad of purposes, including the creation of speeches, letters, essays, reports and news articles, the development of code and the testing of formulae.
Hot on ChatGPT’s heels came competition such as Google Bard. Unveiled in March, it’s designed around search and can be integrated into websites, applications, and messaging solutions.
The speed with which these platforms have been adopted has taken many decision-makers by surprise. Like that semiconductor company’s senior leaders, they have been slow to consider the downside – the threat to their competitiveness if sensitive information is released into the public domain – and, consequently, they failed to introduce policies and processes to mitigate the risk before the leak occurred.
Implementing intelligent safeguards
One way organisations can do so is by implementing a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), which sits on top of an organisation’s tech stack like a glass layer providing customised guidance and automation to end users and data analytics to understand and optimise the user experience and software utilisation. This on-screen technology can be used to implement safeguards on how to use generative AI applications safely by displaying company policy rules of engagement upon entry to these sites, redirecting employees to safer AI applications, or even by altering the options employees see within these applications.
By using a DAP to deliver an automatic pop-up that explains your company’s policy regarding the use of generative AI websites and applications, employees can be educated about the importance of being mindful and vigilant about the information they share and the applications they use.
Requiring users to consider what they can and can’t do, by having them click on an acknowledgment box before proceeding, may help to head off data breaches like we’ve seen in recent headlines.
A DAP can provide complete visibility into how your employees are using all applications, including generative AI applications. This illuminates the ‘shadow AI,’ we’re seeing growing at organisations across industries. Shadow AI refers to the use of AI applications and systems used at an organisation without explicit approval or oversight of the IT department. With the right DAP, organisations can understand and control the risks associated with the use of new AI technologies without having to miss out on the incredible productivity gains they offer businesses when used properly.
Enabling safe experimentation
A creative, productive workforce is built on trust and there is no denying the tremendous potential properly harnessing these new AI technologies can provide. That’s why allowing your people to explore ChatGPT et al in a safe way makes more sense than issuing a blanket ban on generative AI application usage.
Employees’ understanding of the technology, and their general digital dexterity, may vary wildly and any training program you implement should account for those differences.
DAP technology can be used to segment workers – by department, geography, role, or security clearance level – and deliver specific, customised instructions on how they may engage with platforms and programs. In fact, using a DAP the right way could eliminate the need for training programs altogether since the platform can walk employees through processes and policies step-by-step at their own pace whenever they need guidance even across applications and workflows.
The majority of employees are keen to do the right thing and providing that straightforward, in-the-moment guidance can help them stay on track.
Harnessing the benefits of generative AI technology
For most Australian businesses, the AI journey is just beginning. Opting out may place your enterprise at a significant competitive disadvantage and that’s why it makes sense to opt in, in a responsible and measured manner.
Utilising a DAP makes it possible for you to do so. Creating and policing clear guidelines around the use of game-changing generative AI applications allows you to reduce the risk of data leakage and intellectual property loss, without constraining the creativity, innovation, and autonomy of your team unnecessarily. And you’ll be able to put those critical ‘guardrails’ in place in a manner that’s non-combative and collegiate.
If maximising the upside while managing the downside is the modus operandi your enterprise strives to maintain, it’s technology you can’t afford not to have in your tech stack.
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