AI will drive growth—but only if you have people who know how to use it

By Jesus Mantas and Obed Louissaint

Here's how you can bridge the AI skills gap 

Learn more about IBM AI Skills Academy

The future belongs to companies that master the art and science of artificial intelligence (AI) and data to learn and respond to shifting customer needs and behaviors. The personalization at scale, major new delivery platforms, and agility needed to get this right all depend on sophisticated technology. But there’s an additional, all-important element required that no amount of tech can replace: talent.

The value of people for tech

Behind all great AI, is people. But finding the right talent and staffing the right people in the right positions, are large obstacles for companies on their AI transformation journey.

AI can handle customer service for retailers, manage loan and lending for banks, and transform visual recognize underneath the earth for energy companies. All that frees up humans to handle more complex cases and do what humans do best: connect and support other people. That’s why building a workforce to compete in the era of AI is as much about culture and specialized expertise, as it is about technology.

The talent gap

Well over half (63%) of those surveyed for a 2018 report from IBM, “Shifting toward Enterprise-grade AI,” cite a skills shortage as a major barrier to deploying AI. That represents 1.5 times the number of survey respondents who reported a skills shortage in 2016. The skills gap reflects not only technical abilities, but also the business skills needed to leverage AI to drive revenue and reduce costs.

Without those skills, companies will struggle not only to adopt AI at scale, but also to make decisions based on what the technology can do for them. What's needed is an easy way for enterprises to absorb the lessons and capabilities of artificial intelligence at all levels, from the C-suite to the front-line employee.

Overcoming the roadblock

Fortunately, thanks to a new breed of learning services, companies now have access to experts who can teach AI-related change management and other valuable skills. Besides teaching technical skills—for example data science, mathematical modeling and data visualization—the new services go a step further. They also include assessment, hands-on experimentation, and training in ethics.

AI is changing how we live, work, and play in ways that were difficult to imagine only a few years ago. Companies that get on top of this technology stand to gain an exponential competitive advantage. But to do so, they will have to get ahead of the skills gap. They can do so with the help of specialized learning services.

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Learn more about IBM AI Skills Academy

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