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AI usage the highest among Quebec employees: KPMG

In a new report, KPMG has broken down the provincial adoption rate of generative AI across Canada, and found that Quebec led with 26 per cent, ahead of Alberta (23 per cent), British Columbia (22 per cent) and Ontario (20.5 per cent), which nearly tied with Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Atlantic Canada saw the lowest adoption rate.

The higher adoption rate in Quebec could be attributed to the province’s well-developed AI and technology ecosystem, the report noted. Just a few months ago, Microsoft announced C$500 million to expand Quebec’s AI infrastructure and announced two skilling initiatives in collaboration with NPower and KPMG.

Quebec also boasts organizations like CGI and Mila that are actively contributing to accelerating AI innovation in the province.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said at the time that “Quebec is at the forefront of global innovation in artificial intelligence, with one of the highest concentrations of deep learning researchers in the world.”

The lower adoption rate in other provinces suggests differing attitudes towards generative AI. Some provinces may be more open to embracing this technology rapidly, while others may adopt a more risk-averse approach, KPMG said.

The report, which surveyed 4,515 Canadians between Oct. 20 and Nov. 6, 2023, also delves into broader AI adoption trends and challenges in Canada.

In its latest survey, KPMG found that a considerable number of Canadians are in fact not using generative AI in the workplace. This is primarily because they do not recognize its potential benefits, or they choose to do their jobs without the help of technology.

It is hence important, KPMG said, to provide training, enhance communication, and manage change effectively to help Canadians understand the advantages of using generative AI and avoid the many risks associated with its use as well.

“When implementing generative AI, it’s crucial for organizations to prioritize the needs and experiences of their people,” the report added. “As with any digital transformation, success in adopting AI will largely depend on a human-centric strategy.”

This is particularly crucial given the report revealed that the many Canadian generative AI users are, for example, taking risks by sharing sensitive data from their company, clients, and vendors on public generative AI platforms.

On the bright side, the number of Canadian employees reporting that their managers know they use generative AI tools rose across all age groups. 

Interestingly, however, while Canadians have become more transparent with their managers about using generative AI, KPMG’s November survey also saw a jump in the number of people who always claim AI-generated content as their own, and a drop in the number of people who never do.

Additionally, the report shows that a significant percentage of users are only verifying generative AI’s accuracy some of the time.

“As the overall number of generative AI users grows, and public attention on incorrect or misleading outputs intensifies, organizations will need to continue to promote and enable responsible practices and behaviours,” the report said.

AI shows no signs of slowing down, so it’s critical for organizations to recognize that the advantages of generative AI can come with risks that require proactive risk management.

KPMG, therefore, offers five key insights to help organizations navigate a future with generative AI:

  1. Generative AI is becoming a valuable tool for employees’ work routines
  2. Generative AI users take advantage of the technology primarily to enhance personal productivity
  3. A trusted AI framework that adapts to emerging technologies, laws, and regulations is critical for mitigating risk and instilling confidence
  4. Upskilling for generative AI should take place across the entire organization
  5. Start slowly if you must, but just get started. Taking a “wait and see” approach to find out what others are doing could leave you behind your competitors 

See the full report here.

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