The absence of personnel and the necessary capabilities to take on such deployments frequently complicates C-suite expectations for the expansion of AI throughout the company. Rarely, especially for larger enterprises, is money the determining issue. The knowledge and practical skills required to test and implement AI across a business are what are lacking.
When the appropriate machine learning (ML) models and use cases are put together, AI may improve customer service, handle administrative duties, analyze massive amounts of data, and carry out a wide range of other organizational tasks in a massive amount of work and with little to no error. Entrepreneurs understand this. However, they are prevented from acting on that knowledge.
According to recent SambaNova Systems research, only 18% of firms worldwide are implementing AI on a significant, enterprise-wide scale. In a similar vein, 82% of UK IT managers claimed that it is difficult to actually employ into these teams, despite 59% of them reporting that they had the budget to do so.
Every hour of repetitive work that can be eliminated by automating or supplementing them with AI is an hour that employees can use to perform higher-order, lateral-thinking jobs that will be more valuable. Companies are casting about for whatever AI and ML skills they can attract while seeing their rivals gain an advantage as they test, iterate, and roll out large-scale AI programs.
This skills shortage is nothing new, shocking, or particularly simple to resolve. It has been a problem for years, if not decades, in the whole tech industry. A PwC research from 2011 revealed that 56% of CEOs were concerned about a shortage of expertise for digital roles. And more than a decade later, talent acquisition and retention were identified as the top danger to corporate success by 54% of tech CEOs.
This issue has become more urgent in the age of AI since change is happening more quickly than in previous eras.
The speed of development in AI models exacerbates the skills shortage.
Any AI professional who wishes to keep their knowledge current faces two challenges. First of all, the rate of change is amazing and seems to be accelerating constantly. Second, because huge models require significant operating expenditures, they are harder for software engineers to learn as they grow larger.
Large language models are most likely the trendiest topic in AI (LLMs). In 2018, OpenAI released the first Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) model, which is a general-purpose learner and is not specially taught to perform the tasks it excels at. The model makes use of deep learning and is capable of carrying out activities including summarising text, responding to inquiries, and producing text output — and doing so at a level that is comparable to that of a human. Four years ago, the first model was released, however, it only used 150 million parameters (a dataset of less than a million web pages). GPT-3, which debuted in 2020 and featured 175 billion parameters—more than a billion times the number of the first GPT—was the game-changer for the GPT model and huge language models.
Others have been produced by Google, Meta, and Aleph Alpha since this first major language GPT model from OpenAI (which has significant backing from Microsoft). Giant LLMs are supported by these large tech businesses for a reason—they need a lot of experience to train and manage them. The 45 terabytes of data used to train the GPT-3 model cost millions of dollars in processing resources. Even the most current open-source LLM from BigScience, BLOOM, required access to the Jean Zay supercomputer outside of Paris, the combined labor of more than 1,000 volunteer researchers, and $7 million in grants.
Although the concepts are understandable, the cost of running the models makes it far more challenging for a regular software developer to gain practical expertise with them.
The difficulty of assembling a squad
According to a SambaNova study, only one in eight IT leaders have fully resourced teams with sufficient numbers of experienced people to meet the demands of the C-suite. An additional one in three is having trouble keeping up with the expectations made of them. With the personnel they now have, the remainder (more than half) are unable to carry out the C-vision. suite’s
IT leaders have the resources to hire, but the processes of hiring and keeping employees may frequently be extremely challenging and complicated. Technology businesses are competing for the greatest minds more than they are for resources or hardware. These minds are now important resources in and of themselves as a result.
Supply shortage-related problems are numerous, frequently challenging to separate, and frequently overlap. The fact that AI is still in its infancy as a practical field is one of the main challenges teams seeking to fill open positions with new talent must overcome. Since we have had the computational power and technical know-how to make it possible, it has been studied in theory and practice; yet, formal academic education has only recently become more widely available. Organizations that require a fully developed, extensive personnel pool right away are not helped by this.
Universities struggle to find faculty members who have both theoretical and practical AI experience and training. Despite rumors that the tech industry is luring scholars away, many researchers still have a passion for academia. However, the high demand for courses and the little history of graduates from such a young field all contribute to a decline in the number of available academics and a narrowing of the talent pool.
As a result, not only will businesses struggle to find qualified AI candidates, but also people wishing to further their education in AI. Organizations must therefore consider different strategies in order to fulfill their AI/ML objectives.
How improving skills may encourage internal talent
There are methods for engineers to advance their skills and understanding of AI. Several open-source initiatives exist, including TensorFlow (a Google project) and Pytorch (open sourced from Meta).
Upskilling is a process and a workplace policy that benefits both the employee and the business. The company gains a staff that is prepared for the future with broader skills and transdisciplinary AI capabilities, improving its knowledge base by utilizing the most recent methodologies and research. By ensuring that their skill set is in line with the most recent industry trends, employees may future-proof their jobs and position themselves for success in the field.
Companies can lessen some of the negative effects of the skills crisis by investing in learning programs. These initiatives can fill the skill gap that exists between the talent that businesses presently have and the expertise that is required to execute models and ML initiatives that can offer value. This entails having a very distinct understanding of the talents they would like their staff to possess and how they may advance within the company.
As a result, when top talent does become available, they complement an AI team that is already working well rather than serving as the nucleus of a project that is waiting for them.
When is it a good idea to outsource?
Of course, there is still another choice. Outsourcing. A corporation can leverage the value and cost-savings of AI by partnering with an outside start-up or experienced AI company. However, there are a lot of problems and things to think about with this. In some circumstances, it will be the best choice, but there are disadvantages that must be properly considered.
Startups and other businesses are not always successfully integrated into corporate structures: Moving quickly and breaking things is a startup ethos that can clash with a more deliberate, bureaucratic approach. Depending on the dynamics of the partnership, the distinction between short-term and long-term thinking may also become apparent. These implementation projects are typically either long- or short-term investments, therefore it’s critical to agree on timelines and priorities early on.
Outsourcing is a means for smaller businesses to advance their own growth while enviously seeing the gravitational pull that organizations like Google and Meta have on the creation of stellar AI ventures. Similar to a small startup employing a freelancer to handle its copywriting, financials, or web design, SMEs may leverage outsourcing to swiftly and affordably install the best AI models, coupled with guarantees of return on investment.
In light of this, business executives should take into account the technical proficiency of any outsourcing partners and their unique performance criteria. If a partner is able to precisely explain and demonstrate the efficacy of its models and algorithms, the extent of what it can accomplish with the data, and the potential length of the training process, this demonstrates that there is some shared understanding of what success entails.
Enterprises and team leaders must ultimately decide what is best for them given the historical shortage of AI talent. At a time when Big Tech companies like Google, Meta, and others are engaged in a tug-of-war for skilled personnel, the price of moving in-house and building your own team from the ground up may be extremely expensive and inefficient. However, no two projects or businesses are alike, and only those with access to the necessary data can determine whether they require outside assistance or not.
What will under-resourced AI teams do next?
Smaller businesses and organizations are realizing that the little models they have used for a variety of reasons throughout the organization are now unmanageable because they are fragmented, compartmentalized, and frequently unintelligible to anybody but their creators.
Entire procedures and systems are being left behind as employees depart for better offers, more pleasant working conditions, or just a change. Companies are unsure as to whether the vast quantities of AI models and their applications can be audited, and frequently these departures cause models to freeze in time. Nobody wants to touch them for fear of damaging them, just like an archaeological treasure.
We are surrounded by the advantages of AI now and in the future. Daily data are presented to us, including the disruption of entire industries, thousands of hours saved on administrative work, and billions of dollars in value created. Unfortunately, there is a big difference between what C-suite level executives desire and what they can get, and it all starts with their difficulty finding the proper employees.
To really establish the UK as a global AI center, the UK government has presented suggestions for a new AI rulebook in addition to existing funding commitments. More work must be done in order to reach that potential. Starting at the university level, this entails supplying the enormous demand with top-notch curricula, qualified instructors, and practical, hands-on experience with the models.
However, businesses may not always be able to wait for such a long period to benefit from AI given the variety of short-term solutions accessible to them.