AI deployments triple, but firms face acute talent shortages

AI deployments triple, but firms face acute talent shortages

'If you are a CIO and your organisation doesn’t use AI, chances are high that your competitors do and this should be a concern,' says Chris Howard of Gartner

In order to stay ahead, CIOs need to be creative

The number of enterprises implementing artificial intelligence (AI) grew 270 per cent in the past four years and tripled in the past year, according to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Survey.

Results of the survey among 3000 respondents worldwide showed that organisations across all industries use AI in a variety of applications, but struggle with acute talent shortages.

“Four years ago, AI implementation was rare, only 10 per cent of survey respondents reported that their enterprises had deployed AI or would do so shortly.

“For 2019, that number has leapt to 37 per cent — a 270 per cent increase in four years,” notes Chris Howard, distinguished research vice president at Gartner.

“If you are a CIO and your organisation doesn’t use AI, chances are high that your competitors do and this should be a concern.”

The reasons for this big jump is that AI capabilities have matured significantly and thus enterprises are more willing to implement the technology.

“We still remain far from general AI that can wholly take over complex tasks, but we have now entered the realm of AI-augmented work and decision science — what we call ‘augmented intelligence,’” says Howard.

Gartner points out CIOs have realised that sustainable digital transformation and task automation are linked.

AI has become an integral part of every digital strategy and is already used in a variety of applications.

Its survey results show that 52 per cent of telco organisations deploy chatbots and 38 per cent of healthcare providers rely on computer-assisted diagnostics. Other operational use cases for AI are fraud protection and consumer fragmentation.

But as more enterprises deploy AI, the clearer the deployment challenge becomes.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents to a Gartner Research Circle Survey view skill shortage as the biggest challenge facing their organisation.  

Gartner Research Circle Survey
Gartner Research Circle Survey

“In order to stay ahead, CIOs need to be creative,” advises Howard.

“If there is no AI talent available, another possibility is to invest in training programs for employees with backgrounds in statistics and data management. Some organisations also create job shares with ecosystem and business partners.”

Organisations can also partner with local colleges and universities to find  potential interns or work-study projects that can meet their talent needs. The organisation gets the resources to do AI work, while also providing the institution with training in specific skills needed in its local area, says Gartner.

The top game-changer technology

When Gartner asked which technologies respondents view as game changers for their organisation, AI and machine learning jumped from single digits last year to well into double digits today. AI not tops the list.

Gartner says the jump in AI adoption occurred evenly across all regions. But like in previous years, Asia Pacific organisations are deploying the technology faster than other regions. About half of Asia Pacific respondents said they have deployed AI within 12 months compared to 31 per cent in North America, the slowest region regarding adoption.  

Gartner says this could be because Asia Pacific enterprises have fewer legacy applications and processes, so they can leapfrog ahead. Enterprises in Europe and North America must fit AI into established systems.  

Adoption by industry varies. They range from a low of 25 per cent among not for profits to a high of 48 per cent for insurance companies. In general, the industries that have experienced the most digital disruption such as media and retail have adopted AI the fastest, says Gartner.

Government agencies, universities and nonprofits adopt AI more slowly, probably due to tighter technology budgets and a more conservative approach to technology. They feel they can wait for more disruptive technologies like AI to prove themselves first, concludes Gartner.

Credit: Dreamstime

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