Less than one in five businesses have increased productivity with AI tools

New research from Pluralsight reveals that despite accelerating AI adoption, the majority of businesses don’t understand the AI skills their employees have, and lack an upskilling strategy to develop them further.

  • 5 months ago Posted in

There is a stark disconnect between business investment in AI and how prepared employees are to use the new technology for efficiency and productivity gains. Fewer than 20% of businesses have seen a productivity boost from using AI tools, and over 90% of technologists feel there is not enough investment in training to use the technology. New research from Pluralsight shows this problem is compounding fears around AI and job security amongst employees who feel their role is at risk of being replaced and that their skills will quickly become obsolete.

The report titled "Pluralsight AI Skills Report: The Gap Between AI Investment and Worker Readiness" surveyed 250 decision-makers & 250 technology practitioners in the UK on current strategies and attitudes towards AI adoption, AI skills and the future of technology work in the era of AI.

AI as a competitive driver of business success

Three important findings from the report:

• Businesses across industries are looking to make use of AI. Ninety one percent of organisations say they are planning to increase investment in AI technologies in the next 12 months, and 93% have accelerated AI initiatives in the last 12 months.

• The primary motivations are to enhance the customer experience and/or support, improve the employee experience, and increase automation and efficiency.

• Embracing AI is not just a nice to have anymore; it is becoming a necessity in the modern business landscape across multiple industries. 94% of decision makers agree that those not investing in AI in the near future will fall behind the competition.

Understanding AI skillsets within organisations

Businesses face a significant disconnect between wanting to invest in AI, but not believing that it will actually be effective. The research shows 40% of business leaders and technologists believe AI will add more frustration to people’s jobs.

At the same time, 20% of business leaders do not understand their teams’ proficiency in AI, and there is uncertainty from technologists too. Just over half (53%) of employees think their role is at risk of being replaced by AI, and 79% think their skills will quickly become obsolete as AI advances.

Indeed, 91% of business leaders themselves say they are likely to replace or outsource talent in order to successfully deploy AI initiatives. Technologists are well aware of how to fend off this potential risk; 97% acknowledge that staying up-to-date on AI skills is the best way to ensure they have a job in the competitive market.

Commenting on the research Pluralsight’s CEO, Aaron Skonnard, said, “If businesses are to succeed with AI deployments, there is no doubt that they need the right talent in place to work with the technology. But this must not come at the expense of their current workforce – who, through upskilling, can help organisations fill skills gaps from within. Organisations must focus on training their existing talent to propel them through the next wave of AI innovation.”

Matching AI investment with employee training to drive productivity

In order to bridge the gap between AI investment and skill sets, developing talent is crucial. But a lack of investment into skills is felt by employees, with 81% of technologists agreeing that their company often invests in new technology without consideration for teaching employees how to use it.

While 94% of businesses agree that AI initiatives will fail without staff who can effectively use and work with these tools, 88% of technologists agree that their company is investing in training for new AI-technologies less than they should be.

This means employees are left to play catch up with new AI investment, and businesses are suffering, with only 16% seeing increased productivity or efficiency as a result of adopting AI tools.

“Unsurprisingly, fears that AI technologies have the potential to put people out of work are top of mind for technologists,” according to Skonnard. “Instead of focusing on how jobs will be replaced by AI, business leaders and technologists should instead focus on how they can use AI to augment their existing skills. When it comes to AI, it shouldn’t be about how organisations can get by with less, but how organisations can do more with their existing staff.” 

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