Skills gap limiting AI headway

Skills gap limiting AI headway

A lack of in-house talent and poor access to the right technologies and useful data is impeding the progress of artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives, a new study finds.

While most organisations are fully invested in AI, more than half (51 per cent) don’t have the required in-house skilled talent to execute their strategy, according to research from SnapLogic.

The study found that 93 per cent of UK and US organisations consider AI to be a business priority and have projects planned or already in production.

However, insufficient skilled talent was cited as the number one barrier to progressing their AI initiatives.

This was followed by lack of budget (32 per cent), access to the right technologies and tools (28 per cent), and access to useful data (26 per cent), considered to be key issues holding them back.

When asked where organisations are in their AI-machine learning (ML) journey, three-quarters of organisations (74 per cent) in the US and UK have initiated an AI project during the past three years, with the US leading the UK at 78 per cent compared to two-thirds uptake.

In the UK, this in-house skill shortage is considerably more acute, with three-quarters (73 per cent) of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) lacking the necessary talent compared to two-fifths (41 per cent) in the US.

To build the right AI team, more than two-thirds of ITDMs (68 per cent) said they are investing in retraining and upskilling existing employees.

Much like people, these tools won’t be allowed to fulfil their potential or help achieve the organisation’s goals unless the organisation has the right talent and capabilities in place to extract maximum value from them

Three fifths of ITDMs (58 per cent) indicated they are identifying and recruiting skilled talent from other companies and organisations, while half (49 per cent) reckon that recruiting from universities is important to getting an effective AI team in place.

The priority skills and attributes that organisations are looking for in their AI team are coding, programming, and software development (35 per cent), with data visualisation and analytics considered to be a priority by one-third of ITDMs.

For organisations to accelerate their AI initiatives, they must upskill and recruit the right talent and invest in new technology and tools,” said Gaurav Dhillon, CEO at SnapLogic.

“Today’s self-service and low-code technologies can help bridge the gap, effectively democratising AI and machine learning by getting these transformative capabilities into the hands of more workers at every skill level, thus moving the modern enterprise into the age of automation.”

Commenting on the findings of the research, Richard Chiumento, director of Rialto Consultancy, said it is more evidence of too many organisations putting investment in technology ahead of people. “We are talking about an extremely powerful set of technologies but, much like people, these tools won’t be allowed to fulfil their potential or help achieve the organisation’s goals unless the organisation has the right talent and capabilities in place to extract maximum value from them.”

The study was conducted by research house Vanson Bourne on behalf of SnapLogic. Some 300 ITDMs participated in the study, representing organisations with more than 1,000 employees across the UK and US.

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