We don’t have enough people to build the AI systems that can automate business areas that don’t have enough people.
Ironically, while AI is seen as a labor saver, stepping up to handle low-level or repetitive tasks for which it is difficult to find employees, the skills gap remains the biggest barrier to AI adoption. At the same time, AI is also helping organizations address skills shortages.
That’s the word from the latest IBM study of 7,502 executives around the globe, which shows that AI skills shortages aren’t necessarily slowing things down. Currently, 35% of companies reported using AI in their business, an increase of four points from 2021.
Businesses are turning to AI to address labor and skills shortages and drive greater efficiency. Two-thirds of IT professionals report their company is using automation tools to reduce manual or repetitive tasks. Nearly half of IT professionals overall report that their company is currently using or considering using automation software or tools to drive greater efficiencies in IT operations (46%) and business operations (46%) and for cost savings (45%).
At the same time, the greatest barrier to adoption remains limited AI skills, expertise, or knowledge (34%). Such skills need to include being able to explain how AI arrived at a decision remains critical for businesses. A majority of IT professionals in 2021 and 2022 say being able to explain how their AI arrived at a decision is important to their business. Lack of skills and training to develop and manage trustworthy AI (63%) and AI governance and management tools that do not work across all data environments (60%) are the largest barriers companies face in developing AI that is explainable and trustworthy.
The following charts illustrate the most compelling use cases for AI, as well as the main obstacles.
How is your organization using AI and automation to address labor or skills shortages?
- Using automation tools to reduce manual or repetitive tasks 65%
- Using AI-powered solutions to increase employee learning/training 50%
- Using AI to improve recruiting and human resources 45%
- Using low-code/no-code tools to address skills gaps 35%
What, if anything, is hindering successful AI adoption for your business?
- We have limited AI skills, expertise or knowledge 34%
- The price is too high 29%
- We have a lack of tools/platforms for developing AI models 25%
- AI projects are too complex or difficult to integrate and scale 24%
- We have too much data complexity 24%
- We have ethical concerns 15%
AI is indeed a labor saver, but its rise requires skilling or reskilling in whole new ways to design, build and maintain these systems.