How Serious Is The Lack Of Machine Learning Talent?

The growth of AI is being limited by the lack of talent
The growth of AI is being limited by the lack of talent
Image Credit: Mike MacKenzie

The person with the CIO job understands that the future belongs to artificial intelligence (AI). Just about every part of the business is starting to be infused with AI based software that is designed to help humans make better decisions by wading through the reams of data that threatens to overwhelm most businesses. As much as the person with the CIO job understands that the importance of information technology requires that mastering AI is critical to helping the company to get to where it wants to go, they are starting to discover that hiring people with AI talent is becoming harder and harder to do.

Why Hiring AI Talent Is So Hard To Do

The dearth of AI talent is being felt at all firms. However, at banks, insurers and other financial companies their use of artificial intelligence is being especially hampered by a scarcity of data and talent. Just to make things more difficult, uncertainty over data-privacy regulations is adding to their woes. Most companies have implemented some form of AI, and they expect smart software to become a key business component within the next two years.

Among other areas, financial-services firms expect to increase the use of AI in risk management, fraud detection and surveillance, customer communications and efforts to develop new revenue-generating services. The banking and financial services sector have been showing a steady increase in demand across the board for AI-enhanced robotic process automation tools.

Despite this momentum, many companies are finding problems with access to data and a shortage of AI-savvy tech workers as significant obstacles. AI systems typically perform well if they are fed huge amounts of data they can learn from. U.S. companies in all industries last month posted 115,100 job ads for software engineers, a category that includes AI developers. The number of job posts rose by 16,400 from December.

How Companies Can Deal With The AI Worker Shortage

Synchrony Financial uses AI-enabled applications to speed up credit-card authentication, identify and prevent fraud, power virtual agents and personalize marketing offers. The company develops these and other smart tools in house by leveraging troves of customer data such as banking and purchasing history, utility information and social media habits. AI is a competitive advantage for them. They’re really clear on what they want to solve for and how they can put their data to use. To deal with the talent shortage, the company is ramping up training its employees in AI and other capabilities.

Another looming threat comes from large tech firms, with giant data sets and deep talent pools, which are eyeing the financial-services sector as an untapped market for growth. Most firms cite “big tech” companies leveraging AI as emerging competitors in the financial-services market. Apple Inc. last year launched its own credit card, while Inc. is talking with banks about offering checking accounts. Juniper Research estimates that Google Pay, a unit of Alphabet Inc., will reach 100 million users world-wide by the end of the year.

Like their big-tech rivals, financial-services firms are also dealing with regulations around the use of customer data. The U.K.’s break from the European Union last month is adding confusion to data-privacy rules set out in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. There are also uncertainties over how strict California officials will be in enforcing a privacy law, enacted this year, which gives residents the right to ask banks and other businesses to provide them with any collected personal data, such as individual contact information, purchases and loyalty-program history. Customers can also request to have personal data deleted.

Companies understand that a lot of compliance and regulatory risk is a little bit murky. For now, financial firms are racing to sort out compliance measures for these and other regulatory issues to avoid falling behind competitors.

What All Of This Means For You

The world is changing and the new world that we will soon find ourselves living in is going to have a great deal of AI in it. CIOs understand that in order for their firms to be able to thrive and compete in this new world they are going to have to make sure that they have the AI talent on board that the firm will need. However, it is becoming harder and harder to find the people with the skills that are needed.

Banks and other financial companies are feeling the lack of AI talent the most. AI is going to become a key business component for them over the next few years. The number of open AI jobs keeps increasing. Some firms have started to train their employees in AI and other capabilities. Financial companies have to be aware of the large tech firms that may want to use AI to move into their space. The issue of privacy is key and these firms will have to learn how to deal with these issues.

Firms have an almost insatiable demand for workers who come with AI based knowledge. Their future applications need to be equipped with AI in order to better meet the needs of their customers. In order to get the workers that they are going to need, CIOs are going to have to start working with sources of IT workers in order to prepare more workers to have AI skills. Additionally, CIOs will need to start to find ways to add AI skills to the workers that they already have. If they can do this successfully, then they will have AI enabled their company to face the future.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Where do you think the best source of AI trained workers would be for CIOs?

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