Businesses still don’t know who’s accountable for AI at executive level

C-suite executives in an open plan office space discussing AI strategy plans.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Executives are divided over AI responsibility and most organizations lack guidance on the technology at a C-suite level, according to a new report from Gartner

In a survey based on responses from more than 1,800 executives, only 25% of those surveyed said they could identify who in their organization was “primarily accountable” for AI initiatives and delivery. 

These respondents said that the CIO was primarily accountable, while 16% named their organization’s “AI leader” as responsible. Similarly, 12% named their “business unit leader”. Notably, 12% also responded that they were “unsure” or that they felt the question was not applicable.

Accountability is evidently spread out, according to Gartner, and the decentralized or siloed nature of some organizations creates confusion as to where responsibility for AI initiatives lies. 

“AI and GenAI are complex and far-reaching and touch every job, activity and strategic conversation in the organization,” said Gartner’s Frances Karamouzis. 

While more than half (54%) of respondents did indicate that their organization had a “head of AI,” indicating some level of executive direction, 88% noted their AI leader did not have C-suite status.

Gartner said this is because most boards “do not want to expand the C-suite” and, as executives take direction from their board, this restricts the likelihood of an AI-specific role coming into play. 

Businesses could benefit from executive guidance on AI

As AI continues to gather steam, many businesses are beginning to consider the advantages of defining a specific C-suite role for AI initiatives, often dubbed the Chief AI Officer (CAIO).

The benefit here is that an organization can more effectively craft an AI strategy without creating more work for existing executives, though Karamouzis was careful to point out that C-suite status is not necessarily vital.

Those “responsible for orchestrating AI” at an organization don’t need “a title at the altitude of the C-suite,” Karamouzis said, despite businesses needing a clearer direction on development of the technology.  

Businesses do, however, need an AI board according to Karamouzis, despite the fact that organizations are divided on the topic.


“Enterprises need an AI board to transcend the multidisciplinary challenges to drive value and reduce risk,” she said.

“However, the duration, scope, and resourcing is context-specific and use-case dependent. For some, it’s a short-term, stopgap measure. For others, it’s a longer-term change to their operating model.”

When respondents were asked to identify the three key focuses of an AI board, 26% highlighted governance while 21% pointed to strategy, clearly suggesting the extent to which executives appreciate the need to manage AI.

“AI board member composition should have representation from multiple disciplines and cross business units,” Karamouzis said.

“It’s up to each organization to determine the best approach to drive speed and agility within their organization to ensure that the board does not get unwieldy and unproductive due to inability to meet or drive consensus,” she added.  

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.