Businesses Must Act Now to fill AI Skills Gap, says Hexaware

With AI accelerating, Hexaware has called for organisations to act urgently to fill talent gaps and avoid wasting technology investments and costly errors

IT services company Hexaware has issued a warning, stating that AI projects will fail unless businesses commit to closing the AI skills and leadership vacuum.

Although the number of AI-related jobs is increasing, Hexaware has found that nearly three-quarters of UK businesses are struggling to find the AI talent they need to grow their operations. Likewise, only one in ten companies have appointed a Chief AI Officer, pointing to gaps in AI leadership.

During a time when many businesses are keen to invest in AI, Hexaware is keen to highlight that a lack of skills and leadership will result in project failures.

Arun "Rak" Ramchandran: “Organisations need a clear game plan and vision”

In order to fill the vacuum, Hexaware suggests that businesses must find leaders with the right mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. With deep technical knowledge of AI models and data and security, in addition to governance, change and people, AI leaders are able to be more effective and mitigate negative impacts on the workforce. 

This will also ensure that business operations align with company objectives, allowing them to capitalise on their in-depth knowledge of the workforce and business strategy. Organisations can harness soft skills with technical expertise to drive informed and strategic decisions in line with AI technology.

On this, Hexaware’s Head of Gen AI, Arun “Rak” Ramchandran, says: “Organisations are creating a major headache for themselves, as they ramp up their deployment of AI and increasingly Gen AI without the qualified people who understand it and can oversee it.

“Even if organisations can bring in technical AI skills by offering compelling salaries, these investments could be frittered away without the right direction and under the right leadership. Organisations need a clear game plan and vision for where AI can add value in the long term, or else they risk projects that will not deliver a strong return on investment.” 

He continues: “Worse still is the potential for regulatory non-compliance, IP leakage, or lasting reputational damage if employees tune the model incorrectly, let biases creep in models, fail to adjust for objectionable or non-compliant outputs, or inadvertently mishandle sensitive data, due to a lack of proper AI guardrails, governance and oversight.”

Numerous large technology organisations around the world are already working to improve their internal upskilling and AI training initiatives. IBM in particular has partnered with GSMA to better support the adoption of Gen AI in the telecom industry.

Likewise, SAP announced at the start of the year that it would restructure and upskill roughly 8,000 jobs within its business to prioritise its AI growth.

The Power of AI: Advancing business development

Hexaware continues to emphasise the importance of integrating generative AI (Gen AI) into its core operations, having launched its own AI consulting unit last year (2023). As a result, the company provides advanced Gen AI solutions to its clients and helps businesses continue to adapt and be more innovative.

Last week (March 2024), the company launched tensai GPT, its new internal web app using Microsoft Azure Open AI Service to advance innovation within the company’s workforce. Using the power of AI in this way aims to boost efficiency and a commitment to enhancing human-machine collaboration.

With most organisations already moving forward with AI, Hexaware suggests that now is the time to act. Its call to action highlights a sense of urgency for businesses to cultivate the right mix of skills, leadership and partnerships to unlock the full benefits of AI while avoiding potential challenges.

“External experts will prove crucial, helping AI leaders to succeed by bridging short-term skills or knowledge gaps,” continues Ramchandran. “The stakes are too high for organisations to engage in AI without proper leadership and a clear, strategic vision.”

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