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EY Study: AI Important to a Company’s Success, but Lack of Skilled Personnel Remains a Barrier

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31% Believe Lack of Skilled Personnel Is Greatest Barrier to AI Implementation

An EY study of US CEOs and business leaders reveals that most executives recognize the value of artificial intelligence (AI), with 84% believing that AI is important to the future success of their company. At least three in five respondents (62%) said that AI will have a major impact on creating efficiencies at their company, remaining competitive (62%) and gaining a better understanding of customers (60%). In addition, 55% of respondents believe AI will have a major impact on reducing costs and driving new revenues.

Talent remains a major hurdle for the C-suite

Despite the opportunities that the C-suite recognizes in AI, nearly one in three respondents rank lack of skilled personnel (31%) as one of the two greatest organizational/people barriers to AI adoption in their company. Behind skilled personnel, other key organizational barriers include lack of compelling return on investment (27%), lack of management understanding (24%), unclear business case (21%), limited funding (20%) and siloed data and organization (19%).

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These findings are consistent with the results from a recent EY survey conducted in collaboration with MIT Technology Review at the 2019 EmTech Digital conference, where nearly half (45%) of 112 senior business and technology decision-makers reported that their organizations lack the skilled personnel needed to implement AI. This is followed by a lack of clear business case for the technology (34%).

Overcoming barriers to maximize AI implementation 

Despite the hurdles that US CEOs and business leaders have faced in AI implementation, there are several key factors that can make the difference in an organization’s ability to overcome these barriers. The two most important factors cited by US CEOs and business leaders are having a compelling business case for AI (31%) and having a clear strategic vision and commitment to AI from senior management (29%). This underscores the importance of C-suite buy-in, both in informing the organization of AI’s uses, value and ROI, as well as outlining the benefits of long-term implementation.

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Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer, says: “CEOs and business leaders have a responsibility to not only motivate and inspire their organizations with a strategic vision for the future, but to establish a plan that implements AI and other emerging technologies across the workforce. Employees need to be able to trust the technologies and understand the benefits and efficiencies that AI provides personally and for the business.”

Nigel Duffy, EY Global Artificial Intelligence Leader, says: “Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it requires a collaborative effort — and business leaders play an important role by helping to connect innovators with problems to be solved, committing resources and being open to learning. This means partnering with academia to help influence programs that equip students with future-focused skills, and reskilling current workforces and educating them about AI technologies.”

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