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Talent woes among top barriers to generative AI ambitions

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Dive Brief:

  • A lack of skilled talent is impeding the deployment of generative AI in the enterprise, according to an O’Reilly report published last week. The firm received nearly 3,000 complete user responses to a survey on its learning platform, two-thirds of whom said their companies were currently using generative AI. 
  • “People with AI skills have always been hard to find and are often expensive. We don’t expect that situation to change much in the near future,” O’Reilly said in the report.
  • Among the most in-demand positions for companies currently using the technology are AI programming and data analysis. AI talent leaving major tech providers isn’t enough to meet demand across industries, according to the firm. 

Dive Insight:

The ongoing crunch in the tech talent market is one element putting a hamper on adoption plans. Though most providers have equipped their products with off-the-shelf AI capabilities, businesses need workers skilled enough to put those solutions to work.  

To attract in-demand talent to their companies, CIOs should take two key steps: enable remote work and allow researchers freedom to publish, said Mike Loukides, VP of content strategy at O’Reilly Media, in an email.

“The drive to bring staff back into the office is playing very badly with everyone except executives,” said Loukides, the report’s author. “The ability to work from home is a major plus whenever you’re trying to hire, not just for AI.”

Talent isn’t the top barrier to enterprise AI adoption. Rather, companies are more frequently struggling to identify the right applications for the technology.

More than 1 in 5 respondents whose companies use AI said the key barrier to expanding AI adoption was finding appropriate business use cases, making it the most-common obstacle. Another 13% of users cited difficulties in finding enough skilled workers. 

The goal of optimizing operations through large-scale AI implementation remains elusive for most companies, though businesses are slowly advancing on adoption. 

To lure top-flight AI experts, companies can also compete by offering them a place where they can freely talk about the work they’re doing, too.

“Corporate secrecy does not play well,” Loukides said. “That’s an important reason why Apple has never made any significant progress here.”

The AI talent crunch is also driving up wages, according to Comprehensive.io data

The average salary for an AI engineer rose 12% quarter-over-quarter, the firm said in an October report. AI engineers command a 21% salary premium over non-AI software engineers, at an average salary of $188,000.

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