Business units outstrip IT in AI skills surge

Business units outstrip IT in AI skills surge

AI skills most wanted in marketing, sales, customer service, finance and research and development units

Credit: ID 102729388 © Alexandersikov |

Fewer than half of the global jobs in artificial intelligence (AI) went to IT departments this year, according to new research.

In 2019, IT business units posted roughly 68,959 AI-specific jobs, an increase of 363 per cent from 2015, while line-of-business departments posted 156,294, a rise of 74 per cent in the same period. 

Collated by Gartner’s TalentNeuron platform, the figures revealed units such as marketing, sales, customer service, finance and research and development are now driving higher demand for AI skills than their technology counterparts. 

The use cases of AI technology by these departments include customer churn modelling, customer profitability analysis, customer segmentation, cross-sell and upsell recommendations, demand planning, risk management, predictive maintenance, workflow and production optimising, quality control and supply chain optimisation.

Aaron McEwan, vice president of research and advisory at Gartner, stated that the trend was noticeable in Australia, and that it was likely it extended to New Zealand as well.

Meanwhile, Peter Krensky, research director at Gartner, said high demand and tight labour markets have made candidates with AI skills highly competitive, yet hiring techniques and strategies have been sluggish to respond.

He added that in the Gartner AI and Machine Learning Development Strategies study, skill of staff was the top challenge to the adoption of AI, along with machine learning.

“Given the complexity, novelty, multidisciplinary nature and potentially profound impact of AI, CIOs [chief information officers] are well-placed to help HR in the hiring of AI talent in all business units,” said Krensky. 

“Together, CIOs and HR leaders should rethink what skills are truly necessary for an AI-focused employee to have on day one and explore candidate criteria adjacent to hiring specifications. 

“CIOs should also think creatively about IT’s role in governing and supporting diverse AI initiatives and the evolving teams driving this activity.”

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