Digital listening reveals 3 leading innovation drivers | CIO

Digital listening reveals 3 leading innovation drivers | CIO

In six short months, ChatGPT propelled artificial intelligence (AI) into the minds and imaginations of the masses more than any other development since the term “AI” was coined in 1956. According to research sponsored by, an astonishing 39% of U.S. and U.K. adult web users surveyed have used one or more generative AI tools.

With media outlets racing to get exclusives out the door on the latest “big thing,” sifting through the excitement to find the bigger picture is challenging. To gain perspective, Iron Mountain sponsored research by Quadrant Strategies, which used digital listening technologies to study public online conversation trends among enterprise decision-makers. The industries these decision-makers represented include insurance, banking, healthcare and life sciences, government, entertainment, and energy in the U.S. The listening centered on conversations about emerging technologies and use cases associated with innovation, such as artificial intelligence, metaverse, blockchain, robotics, Web 3.0, and tokenization.

AI surpassed other technologies in conversations about innovation

The research underscores that AI is leading the way in accelerating innovation. Conversations suggest that AI is already transforming most major industries. It surpasses blockchain and metaverse projects, which are viewed as experimental or in the pilot stage, especially by established enterprises. Further analysis shows that AI and blockchain drive over 50% of discussions about innovation across all the industries we studied, as illustrated below. 

Top Technologies Mentioned in Innovation Conversations

Tweets from Verified Accounts, January 2021 – December 2022

Opportunities abound for innovating with AI. McKinsey & Company’s 2022 Global Survey on AI says, “AI adoption globally is 2.5x higher [in 2022] than in 2017.” The inherent capabilities of AI–to process vast amounts of data and use learned intelligence to make decisions with extraordinary speed–enable opportunities uncovered through digital listening. At the same time, ongoing challenges continue to be voiced online. We’ve detailed the key points from our listening research below.

AI Opportunities

AI Challenges

Blockchain continues to be an important innovation enabler

Blockchain is the second most popular technology topic tied to innovation in digital conversations we studied. Its algorithms and architecture make it resistant to tampering and, thus, ideal for storing financial records, medical data, or other sensitive information. Because transactions are transparent, blockchain has the potential to increase trust and enable new types of disruptive applications and services, such as decentralized financial systems, marketplaces, and social networks. Our digital listening revealed several opportunities and challenges, summarized below. 

Blockchain Opportunities

Blockchain Challenges

Metaverse experiences enable new ways of interacting

Metaverses are persistent, connected virtual spaces where users or visitors can immerse themselves in work, play, commerce, and socialization. In these spaces, virtual and physical worlds can be unified, and what happens in one world can affect the other. For example, transactions in a virtual world could be binding in the physical world. According to Marty Resnick, VP analyst at Gartner, “Emergent metaverses are in their infancy. But technology trends, with proven use cases and business outcomes, are just the beginning of the value technology innovation brings to the enterprise.”

Our digital listening uncovered the following opportunities and challenges related to metaverses.

Metaverse Opportunities

Metaverse Challenges

Accelerating innovation by addressing key issues

While AI, blockchain, and metaverse use cases and adoption vary by industry, we uncovered two overarching priorities. Universally, decision-makers care about protecting user security and privacy and avoiding introducing bias or exacerbating existing inequalities through automated systems. These two must-haves shape the adoption of new technologies and use cases.

Organizations can accelerate the adoption of data-dependent use cases such as those revealed through our research by having their data in order: using information governance to manage data across its lifecycle through processes, roles, controls, and metrics to collect, organize, use, and secure data. Information governance enables enterprises to achieve strategic goals, mitigate risk, and reduce costs.

Learn how to safeguard data and comply with changing laws, regulations, and operational requirements in Measuring Enterprise Information Governance Maturity.

About the Author

Debra SlapakDebra Slapak is a co-author of Compassion-Driven Innovation: 12 Steps for Breakthrough Success. She is Senior Director of Innovation Strategic Initiatives at Iron Mountain, where she leads the team responsible for the global enterprise innovation thought leadership and research programs. Debra has led marketing programs at Dell and IBM, crafting thought leadership research, education, and outreach in areas such as enterprise edge and 5G, artificial intelligence, data analytics, data management, sustainability, metaverses, and unified asset strategy. Throughout her career, she has engaged with customers, analysts, researchers, subject-matter experts, and strategists to illuminate innovation opportunities springing from emerging technologies. She’s a registered nurse, adventurous chef, therapy pet handler, wife and mother, pet lover, and natural gardener in the fertile wine country of central Texas.