Avanade exposes generative AI skills gap

Customers know they have to embrace generative AI, but many are not in a position to support it due to a lack of expertise

Microsoft partner Avanade has shared research findings that should calm the nerves of those fearing an apocalyptic impact on jobs because of artificial intelligence (AI).

The channel player wanted to get a picture of what customers really feel will happen to jobs when AI Is more widely used across businesses.

Rather than lead to mass redundancies, the majority of users (64%) felt they were more likely to employ more humans next year, with headcount expected to increase by 9%.

The vast majority of IT leaders acknowledged they need to move to an AI-first operating model in the next year to remain competitive, highlighting that there would be challenges training their staff and introducing fresh skills.

“While businesses and IT executives are enthusiastic about driving business value with AI, the findings also reflect the increasing interest and curiosity we are witnessing from leaders and their people globally,” said Florin Rotar, chief AI officer at Avanade.

The research shone a light on an emerging skills gap around generative AI (GenAI), with customers already stretched on the IT front scrambling to arm their staff with the expertise to help roll out the technology.

“Not only do businesses need to take action to ready their people with the essential skills needed to utilise AI effectively, but now is the time for leaders to prepare for an AI-first future by crafting well-defined and responsible strategies,” added Rotar.

There has been an explosion of chatter across the channel in recent months about GenAI, with major vendors lining up to urge their partners to get involved with the products and services they are offering.

At the recent Canalys Channel Forum, the technology was described as a “generational opportunity” for the channel and an area that would reap increasing revenues over the next few years.

There are similar levels of activity at a customer level, with many viewing AI as an opportunity to not just increase efficiency, but to provide more creative opportunities. 

Jillian Moore, global advisory lead at Avanade, said that there were prospects for GenAI to make a positive difference to employees.

“Generative AI tools will give employees more time to create, innovate and imagine – all of which will enable organisations to lead in their sectors and act on new ideas in ways never imagined before. However, it will be key for leaders to highlight and enable its benefits from the start,” she said.

There were clear implications for the channel to not only get their own AI strategies in order, but to be in a position to support customers embarking on the same journeys. Focusing on skills was the key area where customers were concerned and shared their misgivings about their position over AI.

About half (49%) of employees admitted they lacked confidence that their organisation’s risk management processes were adequate for an enterprise-wide technical integration of generative AI.

“As an early adopter, we’ve found that ongoing training is critical and helping everyone understand how to fine-tune their prompt questions and instructions will help employees explore AI’s possibilities,” said Moore.

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