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How should leaders address the AI Talent Gap?

AI Talent Gap

is a game changer. can improve efficiency, increase productivity, and create new efficiencies in business processes. But Leaders need to know how they can address the Talent Gap.

SwissCognitive Guest Blogger: Aruna Pattam, Head – & Data Science, Asia Pacific & Middle East, HCL Technologies

SwissCognitive, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Bots, CDO, CIO, CI, Cognitive Computing, Deep Learning, IoT, Machine Learning, NLP, Robot, Virtual reality, learning is a game changer. can improve efficiency, increase productivity, and create new efficiencies in business processes.

is being used across all sectors of the economy and has the potential to change every industry from agriculture to transportation, healthcare to financial services, with some industries seeing more -driven innovation than others.

In order, for technologies to reach their full potential, we need talented people who are trained in and related fields: computer science engineers, data scientists or experts, domain experts and others who need to use . If you want your organization to reap benefits that come from incorporating into its operations, then it needs these human resources as well as access to advanced technology tools that will enable it to develop innovative applications and systems using techniques.

A lot of organizations are facing issues with lack of human resources and access to advanced technology tools, both necessary for incorporating into operations.

Leaders need to know how they can address the Talent Gap.

Topics covered in this blog:

In this article, I will discuss:

  • Factors leading to the demand in talent,
  • Impacts of Talent Gap to businesses, and
  • What leaders need to do to address the Talent Gap.

What factors are leading to the demand for Talent?

 Artificial intelligence () has advanced from science fiction to usable technology. It is now at a point where it’s being deployed in real-world applications: Netflix uses to improve its recommendations, Google Photos uses to label photos, and Facebook uses for tagging your friends in photos.

With more businesses eager than ever to build solutions, they will face serious problems without new employees trained in technology. This Talent Gap is a global challenge with implications across political, social, and economic spheres. jobs are increasing at such an exponential rate that there aren’t enough qualified experts to fill these roles.

Below are the factors that are leading to the demand for more and more talent, such as:

#1: Competitive advantage:

As has become an important part of modern organizations, they need to hire professionals in areas like business, IT administration, project management etc.

#2: Robotics:

Robotics have already found its way into retail stores where customers use robots to fulfill their orders. This has the potential to create new jobs and opportunities for people in the future, however companies will need -related talent if they want to be successful.

#3. Government:

Governments around the world are implementing on a national level. This can affect almost every single process within government operations from healthcare to agriculture, transportation, or education etc. You need specialists who understand algorithms used in specific applications and processes to successfully implement.

#4. Untapped market:

technologies have the potential to create new processes and products that can change industries or humanity – as a whole. As such, companies will need -related talent to be successful in their industry.

#5. Management:

As gets implemented in companies, they should then be managed and supported. You need specialists who know how systems work or which methods and tools are considered the best.

Impacts of Talent Gap for business

The rise of has created a new demand for talent, and it is the critical factor to help companies gain a competitive edge. Companies are facing an increasing challenge and they cannot afford to lose ground in this fierce competition.

But with such strong demand, where can I find people who have proper skills? This is one of the problems that leaders in businesses are facing now.

Here are the challenges companies are facing due to lack of skills:

#1. Increase cost of Development:

Huge demand in will result in Brain Drain and will make R&D efforts Costly.  The brain drain will increase the cost of development as qualified human resources and research and development will be very expensive.

#2. Loss of Market Share to Competitors:

Harnessing technology becomes a must, if businesses want to survive in this fiercely competitive environment, otherwise it will be too late. A company that doesn’t have Talent could also be at risk of being overtaken by a competitor who does have Talent.

#3. Risk of Staff Turnover:

talent is a rare commodity, and it is very hard to find experts who have the right mix of knowledge in data analytics, automation and comfortable talking about data and technology with non-technical people in the company. This is a rare combination of skills, which require the business to invest heavily in retaining them otherwise they are at risk of losing valuable employees.

#4. Loss of Customer Confidence:  

Customers can also lose confidence in your company if they see that

you are lagging, behind the competition.   Expert talent will give you the ability to understand your customers better and enhance customer experience.

#5. Risk of Regulatory Issues: 

Since is a trending topic these days, it is very likely that the Government or the Regulator will step in and regulate how we use

Thus, it becomes very important for businesses to have a deep understanding of to avoid any risk of regulatory oversight.

What leaders need to do to address the Talent Gap?

I can see that there are two types of skill gaps that exists:

The first – Technical teams who usually design and build solutions for business. Skill gaps here are mostly about the technical aspect of , for example: designing a powerful deep neural network model or building a robust computer vision system for ; for these skills, it is hard to find good candidates currently.

And the second – Business teams who use it in their businesses. The skill gaps here are about the business context, for example: business users, managers, and executives from all kinds of industries need to understand how can be used in their businesses. They also need a good understanding of this technology such as how it works or where it excels.

leaders should focus on addressing both the gaps. Business leaders must be proactive and creative in finding methods to attract talent as the field emerges, and the current supply of talent is simply inadequate to meet demand.

And how can businesses address the Talent Gap? 

Look Internally:

The best way to fix this problem is to focus on up-skilling internal resources making their current employees transition to . How do we do that? Well, there are many ways.

#1. Thought Leaders:

First, we need to identify the thought leaders in each business area and make them evangelists. Let’s call them “ gurus”.

These people should come from different areas within a company and their job is to raise awareness about , identify others who are interested and help in framing the appropriate training plan.

We need to educate our thought leaders about the techniques and how they can be applied in different business models. 

#2. Re-training and up-skilling:

Secondly, we need to focus on re-training and up-skilling. When we re-train the employees it’s important that we not only focus on the technical aspects but also on how to think critically and creatively about to drive innovation and uncover new applications. This will require new skills – not just technical skills, but also interpretive and cognitive skills such as creativity, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and strategic thinking. We need to make sure that internal resources are aware of the capabilities and use cases for .

#3. Innovation Labs and Internal Conferences:

Thirdly, we could also establish “Innovation labs” and “internal conferences” which would serve as a platform for employees to participate in . This will help create interest and curiosity and can be used to highlight ways solutions can be used in driving business value. This will make it easier for us to tap into the potential knowledge of people who are interested but do not have a way to showcase their talent. And can help employees to network with other like-minded individuals and with experts in the field of .

#4. Create a cross functional team:

Another way to think about the talent shortage is to break skills down into different roles. Having a team is better than having “a person” for the role such as people with different skills like domain expertise, development expertise, and data science model selection/evaluation.

A team will work much better than a lone wolf more likely to make mistakes because they are less aware of the impact they have on others. For example, instead of looking for a unicorn data scientist, we could create a team with different skills that work together and complements each other. 

Look Externally:

If we have exhausted the internal option, we could then look at external sources to address the gaps that exists especially in the technical skills areas.

#1. Hiring Experts:

This might include hiring experts such as data scientists or engineers on a full time, contract or on an interim basis to support the work of an project team.

Leaders will need to plan for and create roles and get the required skills in place as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are tools available out there which can be used to manage the process including: Job Descriptions, Job Postings, Skill Mapping and RFP’s.

#2. Young Talent:

We could also look at the young talent on internship, part-time or full time. They are fresh talent with a different approach on problems and solutions. They usually come with fresh ideas and perspectives to new innovations, which is important as has the potential to redefine our world as we know it.

#3. Partners and Consulting firms:

We can also reach out to partners and consulting firms that have more experienced talent pool. They might have resources that can be used to help you kick start the journey in your company. The nature of these partnerships could come in various forms and can range from a simple contractual agreement, joint venture or even a merger.

This is especially useful if the project is large and requires experienced talent pool which are not available internally.

Conclusion:

A big factor leading to the demand for Talent is that has changed and continues to change number of industries. This leaves companies without enough people who have the right skills, which will be essential in order keep up with the pace of . Companies need to find ways of addressing this issue now before they’re left behind by their competition. 

Alongside Talent Gaps impacting businesses’ competitiveness, many leaders don’t even know how much an impact these gaps have on their company’s bottom line or what they should do about them when they arise.

In order, to address this challenge head-on and ensure talent isn’t a roadblock to innovation and growth, leaders in any company can take these three steps:

#1. Acknowledge the problem

Acknowledging the problem allows a leader to identify it early on and work out how to address it in their company.

#2. Acknowledge talent is a necessity

Acknowledging that talent isn’t just a nice-to-have, but a necessity for any innovation in their company will allow them to appreciate it more and realize what role it should play in their company’s transformation.

#3. Acknowledge why talent needed

Acknowledging why you need talent will allow a leader to develop solutions and prioritize their actions to close the gaps, instead of just addressing the symptoms. Addressing the Talent Gap is not a quick fix. It will require a strategy and an approach that will evolve over time. Depending on where you are in your journey, you must choose the right option.

What do you think? Do you feel there is a talent gap of experts in your organisation? What do you think leaders need to do to prepare themselves to address the skills shortage?


About the Author:

Aruna Pattam heads the & Data Science practice at HCL Technologies for Asia Pacific and Middle East region. She has spent the last 21+ years delivering high impact solutions using data analytics, , and analytics platforms.

Aruna is highly passionate about is Women in , ethics, responsible and how is helping organisations meet ESG expectations. Aruna is a thought leader, speaker, content creator and regularly shares informative blogs, storytelling videos etc. aimed at demystifying and detailing the ever-expanding scope for business transformation.