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AI Attitudes in New Zealand

Datacom research report

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new, but as uptake grows and businesses adopt more advanced, generative AI technologies, it is important to evaluate if we have the right governance in place to balance the risks and rewards. We also need a forward-looking approach from both industry and government to ensure New Zealand remains competitive.

Datacom commissioned a survey of 200 senior business leaders in New Zealand to understand rates of AI adoption, maturity of existing AI governance and security, appetite for AI-specific legislation and which sectors are seen to hold the greatest opportunities and risks for AI use.

Q. Do you currently use any form of AI within your business?

AI use within New Zealand organisations

AI adoption in New Zealand organisations is relatively advanced, with almost half (48%) of business leaders stating AI is already currently in use within their organisation. Despite this, almost the same number of organisations (49%) are yet to embark on their AI journey… or don’t plan to at all.

Similar research conducted by Datacom in Australia, shows organisations on the other side of the Tasman appear far more advanced with 72% of Australian organisations already using AI within their business.

48% yes, 49% no, 7% unsure

Q. What are your personal views of AI?

Are NZ business leaders supportive of AI?

The majority of business leaders are excited about AI and support its use. Of those who don’t feel fully educated on AI and its use and / or benefits to their organisation, there is a strong desire to learn more (35%).

However, not all business leaders are supportive of AI, with almost a fifth of respondents (17%) saying they know about AI but have no desire to find out more about what it can do for them or their organisation.

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Key concerns around AI use

Security, safety concerns around control of AI tools and ethics ranked as the top three concerns, with bias and unemployment also featuring as a key concern.

  • Security (75%)

    We don’t know what implication AI might have.
  • Safety (73%)

    Uncertainty around control, or loss of control, of AI.
  • Ethics (53%)

    Questions around the use of AI in wider society.
  • Bias (50%)

    AI algorithms reflecting human biases.
  • Unemployment (36%)

    Less job opportunities for New Zealanders.

Q. Do you feel well educated on the risks of AI from a security standpoint?

Understanding the security risks of AI

The use of AI in a corporate environment brings with it added security risks -particularly when it comes to personal data and corporate IP being entered into uncontrolled and potentially unsecured applications.

While almost half of New Zealand organisations are already using AI, six in ten business leaders don’t feel well educated on the security risks AI may pose for their organisation.

38% yes, 60% no, 4% unsure

Policies and procedures around AI use

Across the board, the foundation for effective and safe use of AI hasn’t been laid –particularly in the areas of audit assurance and legal guidelines. In addition, strategy around AI use also appears to be lacking, with 91% of organisations having no targets around the use of AI, making its success difficult to measure.

Q. If your business is already using AI, do you have any of the following in place?

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Q. Do you believe your business will struggle to adapt to the fast-changing environment caused by AI?

Ability to keep pace with AI

Overall, New Zealand business leaders are confident their business will be able to keep pace with the rapid change AI is predicted to bring.

Almost two thirds of business leaders (65%) believe their organisation is well placed to adapt to the changing environment AI brings. One in five (21%) expect some bumps in the road while 14% are unsure.

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Q. What is your view on employees AI tools such as ChatGPT (generative AI) to carry out their work tasks?

Employee use of AI

While one in five business leaders are opposed to their employees using AI tools in the workplace, a huge number (69%) are supportive of its use.


Q. Do you believe that as a country, New Zealand is well-placed to adapt to the AI revolution?

Is New Zealand ready for the AI revolution?

When asked whether New Zealand is well placed to adapt to the AI revolution, business leaders have mixed feelings.

While 40% said they do believe Aotearoa is ready to embrace AI, almost the same number of business leaders (38%) didn’t feel the same, and nearly a quarter remain unsure.

We want people to understand that AI shouldn’t be viewed as something that sits outside your business or as a tech add-on. How you apply AI and its purpose should bedetermined by your business goals. AI has incredible optimisation capability that can be used to supercharge your strategy.

Yes 40%, No 38%, Unsure 22%

The opportunity for AI in New Zealand

Q. AI can be used in almost any industry. Below are some of the key industries which could adopt AI technology – which sector do you think carries the greatest opportunity to society at large?


The sectors where AI use creates potential risks for society

Q. AI can be used in almost any industry. Below are some of the key industries which could adopt AI technology – which sector do you think carries the greatest risks to society at large?


Legislating the Government’s use of AI in Aotearoa - is it needed?

Q. Do you believe the government should bring in specific legislation or controls around the use of AI within government and/or the public sector?

The vast majority of business leaders believe the government should bring in specific legislation and controls around the use of AI within government and / or the public sector. Careful consideration, however, needs to be progressive and able to be adapted at speed given the nature of AI.

7% unsure, 11% no, 82% yes

Q. Will the integration of AI within businesses in New Zealand impact operations and workforce structure?

How will AI impact the New Zealand workforce…

81% of business leaders believe the integration of AI within NZ businesses will impact operations and workplace structures.

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Q. Is your business ready to incorporate AI and do you predict that your business will require AI specialists?

Four in ten predict their business will require AI specialists.

(note 45% say no they won’t)

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Future plans around AI use

Q. If your business is NOT already using AI, when do you plan to incorporate it into your operations?



The following research findings are based on a survey of 200 senior business leaders (C-level, senior manager, IT manager) in New Zealand organisations with 100 or more employees. Research was conducted between Wednesday 19 July to Tuesday 25 July 2023 by Curia Market Research and was carried out in accordance with the Research Association New Zealand Code of Practice and the International Chamber of Commerce/European Society for Opinion and Market Research Code on Market and Social Research.

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