The first step in filling skills gaps is identifying them. For financial service (FS) organizations, the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) heralds the need for human-machine collaboration. This makes identifying the skills gap more complex.

As technology has advanced, FS IT organizations have recruited, trained and acquired the necessary new technology skills. Now, as AI is woven into the mix and IT roles and responsibilities evolve, uniquely human skills are also required. This will compel IT organizations to rethink skills and move beyond traditional IT workforce models.

As AI automates and augments IT jobs, and creates new ones, new, human-centered skills like problem solving, judgment, communication and empathy will be critical for IT to succeed at human-machine collaboration. Organizations seem confident they have the skills they need. I am less sure.

In Accenture’s study, Making IT Work, more than three-quarters (79 percent) of executives across industries, markets and company sizes, indicated that were confident that their current workforces were ready to meet their organization’s IT needs over the next three years. This, even though 88 percent currently find it difficult to source new IT talent?

In addition, while 56 percent of executives acknowledge that their company will need expertise in new technologies like AI in the next three years, only about half recognize that their IT workforce will also need communication, collaboration and analytical skills. When asked about their current IT workforce’s AI skills, 46 percent of executives described them as adequate.

I believe the AI skills gap may grow rapidly as AI initiatives scale up.

Take a look at how roles are already evolving:

  • Software developers. AI is shifting how developers create new software. With smart machines automating code creation and minimizing bugs, developers can focus on outcomes, ultimately becoming more accountable for meeting business objectives. The new skills needed: business acumen, communication, collaboration.
  • Project managers/scrum masters. These workers have to oversee a wide range of administrative processes. With AI taking over many of these transactional tasks, they can shift their focus to engaging development teams and business stakeholders around the strategic intent and business drivers of the programs/products they manage. The new skills needed: emotional intelligence, creativity, judgement.

AI skills are scarce. Closing this skills gap and unlocking the full value of AI using traditional approaches, managed service providers and contractors, may not be possible.

New tactics are emerging.

Talent ecosystems

Companies are straddling the old and the new in sourcing technology talent.

They still plan to hire full-time employees and use managed service providers and external partners and contractors to meet their IT capability needs over the next five years, but talent sourcing partnerships are changing. Instead of traditional one-to-one relationships with IT staffing firms, boundaries are disappearing as multiple organizations join together to create new talent ecosystems.

Accenture, for example, is collaborating with Stevens Institute of Technology on a graduate certification program in financial services analytics and machine learning. The curriculum aligns academic thinking to industry skills needs to address the supply-demand imbalance for financial services analytics expertise.

By dialing up capability, IT can provide services to the business at scale without investing the time and money to land full-time, in-house hires. However, to address something as transformative as AI, companies have to transform too.

Join me next week as I discuss the three critical factors they need to address to drive that transformation.

Meanwhile, for more on creating an AI-fit IT workforce, click through to Accenture’s Making IT Work paper. For insight into the human-machine collaboration skills needed for AI, read Reworking the Revolution.

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