The majority of business leaders (84 per cent) acknowledge that artificial intelligence (AI) is important to the future success of their company but lack of skilled personnel remains a significant barrier, a new EY study finds.
Despite the opportunities that the C-suite recognises in AI, nearly one in three respondents rank lack of skilled personnel (31 per cent) as one of the two greatest organisational/people barriers to AI adoption in their company.
More than three fifths of respondents (62 per cent) said that AI will have a major impact on creating efficiencies at their company and remaining competitive. A similar figure (60 per cent) reckon it will lead to better understanding of customers.
In addition, 55 per cent of respondents believe AI will have a major impact on reducing costs and driving new revenues.
Behind skilled personnel, other key organisational barriers include lack of compelling return on investment (27 per cent), lack of management understanding (24 per cent), unclear business case (21 per cent), limited funding (20 per cent) and siloed data and organisation (19 per cent).
EY reports that these findings are consistent with the results of a survey it conducted in collaboration with MIT Technology Review where nearly half (45 per cent) of 112 senior business and technology decision-makers reported that their organisations lack the skilled personnel needed to implement AI.
This was followed by a lack of clear business case for the technology (34 per cent).
It underscores the importance of C-suite buy-in, both in informing the organisation of AI’s uses, value and ROI, as well as outlining the benefits of long-term implementation
Despite the hurdles that business leaders have faced in AI implementation, there are several key factors that can make the difference in an organisation’s ability to overcome these barriers, according to EY.
The two most important factors cited by business leaders are having a compelling business case for AI (31 per cent) and having a clear strategic vision and commitment to AI from senior management (29 per cent).
This underscores the importance of C-suite buy-in, both in informing the organisation of AI’s uses, value and ROI, as well as outlining the benefits of long-term implementation, notes EY.
“CEOs and business leaders have a responsibility to not only motivate and inspire their organisations with a strategic vision for the future, but to establish a plan that implements AI and other emerging technologies across the workforce,” said Jeff Wong, global chief innovation officer, EY.
“Employees need to be able to trust the technologies and understand the benefits and efficiencies that AI provides personally and for the business.”
Rialto director, Richard Chiumento, sits on the All-Parliamentary Party Group on Artificial Intelligence, which was set up with the aim of exploring the impact and implications of AI and leaders. Commenting on the report, he said the findings underline many of the challenges businesses face when implementing AI but they must be confronted immediately.
“Dedicating resource to finding skilled personnel or investing in development and training lies at the heart of many of these other challenges,” he said. “The organisations that invest in building their capability and plugging knowledge gaps in this area now will be far better placed to address them and any future challenges that AI throws up.”