Why companies are still struggling to get to grips with AI

In the short term, AI will create more jobs than it destroys. In fact, companies are stuggling to find talent to support their AI projects at the moment.
1 May 2018

Will AI create jobs or take them away? Source: Shutterstock

Everyone is talking about how artificial intelligence (AI) will take away jobs – now and in the future, but the truth is, there’s still a real talent crisis and companies are struggling to find the right candidates to power their business.

The truth is that, for now, AI is creating more jobs than it is destroying.

Business leaders are optimistic about the impact of AI on job creation, according to a poll by EY produced by MIT Technology Review Insights.

The consulting giant polled 122 business leaders and found that although it is expected to reshape the traditional workplace, more than half of the respondents said they believed AI will have a positive impact on job creation.

In fact, 32 percent of respondents said that with the implementation of AI, more jobs will be created than lost, and an additional 20 percent anticipate that it will create a surge in new jobs, boosting the economy.

“Like the poll respondents, many of the people on teams I work with don’t feel their jobs are jeopardized by AI. In fact, they demand intelligent automation that enables them to redirect their time toward more complex work that drives greater employee engagement and adds real value,” said Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer.

We estimate that we will save approximately 2.1 million hours of our people’s time on repetitive tasks in fiscal year 2018 due to automation. Those are hours that can be repurposed and reinvested into the EY business,” added Wong.

Talent gap is the top concern for organizations looking to apply AI

According to EY, while organizations are increasingly implementing AI technologies, adoption plans are being hampered by a shortage of people with relevant skills, which may explain the proportion of organizations applying the technology purely for its functional capabilities.

A shortage of requisite talent to drive adoption is the biggest challenge for enterprise-wide AI programs, according to 80 percent of respondents. Next is a lack of integration of insights into current business processes, a lack of managerial understanding and sponsorship, and the data used not being trusted or of high quality.

Businesses want to use AI to improve, but aren’t tracking progress

The poll found that the top three outcomes that business leaders want from AI are:

  • To improve and/or develop new products/services
  • Achieve cost efficiencies and/or streamline business operations, and
  • Accelerate decision-making

Findings also showed that although organizations are seeing how it can help them succeed, more than half of them are not clearly defining business outcomes or key performance indicators (KPIs) related to AI. Instead, they are primarily focusing on piloting and learning.

Organizations lack scalable, enterprise-level AI strategy

While 30 percent of business leaders say their organizations have functional AI capabilities and are piloting the technology within corporate functions, they still need an enterprise-wide strategy that aligns with these programs.

EY found that only 21 percent of respondents’ organizations are making progress in securing C-suite support and rolling out a strategy for applying AI, while another 28 percent said their organizations have limited to no capabilities, and the technology is not regarded as a strategic, overall priority.

To succeed, businesses must get cracking on AI and make sure they not only have the right talent and the right tools and metrics to track success but also have the support of the C-suite. Only then can they stay ahead of the curve.

“While AI is still in the early stage of maturity, businesses need to develop an AI strategy that is supported by the C-suite with the proper team to execute and measure its success,” said Chris Mazzei, EY Global Innovation Technologies Leader and Chief Data & Analytics Officer.