The biggest barrier to enterprise AI adoption? Tech pros lack skills needed to implement it

Despite the shortage of artificial intelligence experts, nearly two-thirds of business leaders found the technology beneficial.

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Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • 56% of tech professionals dealing with AI say a lack of talent is the biggest barrier to more AI adoption in businesses. -EY, 2017
  • 61% of tech professionals said they see AI as beneficial to enterprise. -EY, 2017

A tech talent shortage is impeding the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) in the enterprise, according to new research from EY.

Of 200 senior AI professionals, 56% said a lack of talent in the field is the greatest barrier to AI implementation, EY found. This suggests that tech professionals may need to find ways to grow their skill set to drive the field forward in their companies.

Despite the talent shortage, business leaders continue to utilize AI in the enterprise, EY said, with 62% finding the technology beneficial.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

"This year, as businesses strategized how to integrate AI into their operations, they were hampered by a shortage of experts with requisite knowledge of the technology," Chris Mazzei, EY global chief analytics officer, said in the press release. "This serves to demonstrate that successful AI integration is not just about the technology, it's about the people."

A November report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) and DataRobot also found that a lack of skills would be AI's biggest barrier, with 73% of businesses not having an in-house AI or data specialist. IDC identified high costs and stakeholder buy-in as additional challenges.

The EY report also found stakeholder buy-in to be a challenge, with 33% of respondents citing it as a barrier. However, stakeholders are increasingly seeing the benefits of the technology, the report noted.

To continue AI implementation despite a skills shortage, Mazzei recommended recruiting new talent with AI skills, along with investing in training for those already on staff.

AI adoption will accelerate in 2018, according to Nigel Duffy, EY's Global Innovation AI leader, and businesses should have an implementation plan.

"To be successful, leaders should identify a business challenge and then determine where the technology can solve this problem - but this can only be realized with the support of AI-savvy professionals who can identify AI opportunities in their business," Duffy said in the release.

Currently, businesses are scattered in terms of AI progress, EY said in the report. Less than 20% are looking at potential implementation options, and 26% are only in the pilot phase. Two-thirds of businesses have someone assigned to oversee AI projects, the report said.

The report also found 41% of respondents are concerned about diversity in the AI field, citing the potential that they'll make machines biased.

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