Just over one in two businesses (51%) do not have the right skills in house to execute their AI strategy even though 93% of businesses are fully invested in AI, according to research from SnapLogic.
The level of commitment to implementing AI initiatives varies by sector. Four out of five respondents working in financial services businesses said they currently have AI projects in place. Retail, distribution and transport follow close behind with 76%, and 72% of companies within the business and professional services sector presently have an AI project.
It is worth noting that the lowest proportion with an active AI initiative, seven out of ten companies, is found in the IT industry. This may seem surprising considering that IT professionals might be expected to know more about future technologies. It is possible that those in IT are holding back as they wait for conditions to be optimal, in terms of wanting the perfect use case, favourable data and impeccable tools.
Access to skills and talent also varies by sector. The manufacturing and the IT sectors are those that face the biggest obstacle of a talent shortage.
In addition to a paucity of skills, other barriers to effective AI execution are lack of budget (32%), lack of access to the right technology and tools (28%), and lack of access to useful data (26%).
Geography has an impact on the severity of the situation with the AI skills shortage being more acute in the UK than in the US. In the UK, 73% of companies say they are lacking AI skills compared to 41% in the US. As for businesses that have initiated an AI project in the past three years, 78% of companies in the US have done so in comparison with 66% of companies in the UK.
The top skills these companies say they are looking for are coding, programming and software development with 35% citing these as the most in demand. For 34%, governance, security and ethics are the most necessary skills. One third of IT decision-makers state that data visualisation and analytics are the skills they most need. Just over a quarter (27%) are looking for talent with an advanced degree in a field closely related to artificial intelligence and machine learning.
To build an AI team, 68% of respondents said they are looking to develop existing talent and are investing in retraining and upskilling current employees. Others are looking externally with 58% saying they are identifying and recruiting skilled talent from other companies and organisations. Just under half (49%) said they believe recruiting from universities is important to getting an effective AI team in place.
The survey was conducted by quizzing 300 IT decision-makers across several industries and was carried out by Vanson Bourne on behalf of SnapLogic.