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Enterprise AI adoption grows despite mounting skills shortage

Written by Finbarr Toesland Tue 20 Apr 2021

Survey suggests large organisations also struggling with sufficient quality data to train AI

A new survey by American learning firm O’Reilly has explored how companies are adopting AI and the barriers that limit more widespread usage.

O’Reilly’s 2021 AI Adoption in the Enterprise report surveyed more than 3,500 business leaders and found that while organisations are increasingly embracing AI, many are uncovering concerning talent gaps.

It’s no secret that finding and hiring AI talent is difficult for enterprises, and this issue topped the list of challenges in AI, with 19% of survey respondents believe this to be the most significant barrier to AI adoption.

A majority (52%) of respondents said ML modellers and data scientists had the skills most lacking in the talent market, followed by understanding business use cases (49%), and data engineering (42%).

The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” remains true with the second-most problem for AI adoption being a lack of high-quality data (18%). It’s increasingly obvious for enterprises that feeding bad or poor quality data into AI tools will lead to substandard results.

The two most popular techniques used by respondents were supervised learning (82%) and deep learning (67%) with the retail sector (40%) having the highest percentage of mature practices. Mature practices are reported by 26% of respondents, which is roughly in line with previous years.

The report’s author, Mike Loukides, vice president of content strategy at O’Reilly, points to the fact that this year’s survey generated nearly three times as many responses as last year as clear evidence for the growth of enterprise AI. But Loukides acknowledges that the intense need for AI expertise is only set to increase and supply is not on track to meet this bumper demand.

“It’s no surprise that the demand for AI expertise has exceeded the supply—that’s been predicted for years—but it’s important to realise that it’s now become the biggest bar to wider adoption,” says Loukides.

Written by:

Finbarr Toesland

Features Writer


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