Is Microsoft the world’s biggest AI recruiter?

A study of tech giants’ job boards reveals Microsoft is ramping up its AI specialist roster.
26 February 2019

Microsoft software flaw could lead to widespread hacking. Source: Shutterstock

Regardless of your company’s size, looking at what the world’s leading tech giants are doing can shed some insight into where things are heading for us all— and, in case we needed further confirmation, that seems to be towards a world driven by automation.

With artificial intelligence (AI) and its ilk putting a squeeze on certain jobs— as many as 8,820,545 within the decade if you’re based in the UK— there is, in turn, a spiraling demand for AI experts among those companies leading the charge.

In fact, according to global recruitment site Indeed, the demand for workers with AI skill sets has increased by up to 119 percent, and that stat is given additional substance by new research from RS Components.

In a global study, the electronic components supplier set out to find which companies are actively recruiting for AI-related roles by searching for the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ on the job boards of the world’s biggest tech companies.

It may or may not come as a surprise that Microsoft topped the list with 1,964 AI job openings, equating to over a third (36 percent) of jobs the company is currently recruiting for. RS notes that this is double the number that Google is advertising and more than 4.5 times that of Intel.

In terms of the total number of AI jobs listed, Google followed with 837 current vacancies (33 percent of its total jobs currently available), then Intel with 432 job openings (17 percent of total jobs). In the remainder of the top five, GPU and chip maker Nvidia had 369 AI job openings, amounting to 33 percent of total jobs, followed by German software giant SAP, with 320 AI job vacancies (12 percent of total).

An emerging AI giant

For Microsoft, AI has seen relatively “effortless” integration with its existing (and legacy) products and services. The technology has seeped into everything it does, from upgrades to Office and new tools in its Azure cloud computing platform.

That’s not to mention its work with mixed reality and HoloLens 2, currently in the public eye, and its Cortana virtual assistant.

The company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, recently called AI the “defining technology of our times”, and made moves to restructure the company around the technology as one of its two biggest focal points, the other being cloud.

That’s not a recent change of perception either. The company set up an AI research group back in 2016, formed of 5,000 computer scientists and engineers, which is now closer to 8,000, tasked at turning AI innovations from research into product.

Elsewhere in RS’s AI recruitment ranks, it wasn’t a shock to see Amazon (297), Facebook (191), IBM (150), Apple (129), and Oracle (96) elsewhere in the top ten.

And while this is just a snapshot of the state of hiring at the time of the study, Microsoft’s extensive lead is a good indicator of its ongoing bid to become a world AI heavyweight.