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AI adoption held back by user skills shortages

Research from SoftwareOne exposes the problems customers face when attempting to take advantage of artificial intelligence

The evidence continues to mount up that there is a real opportunity for the channel to step in to help customers with their artificial intelligence (AI) needs.

Findings from Barracuda’s latest MSP survey published 12 June 2024 indicated that the overwhelming majority of channel partners are under pressure to deliver AI and acknowledge the need to improve their skills.

Meanwhile, cloud solutions provider SoftwareOne quizzed users to discover the extent to which they are struggling to get to grips with AI, with 62% of companies lacking AI skills, resulting in a focus on upskilling staff.

SoftwareOne’s Cloud skills report linked the skills gap with an impact on customer progress on digital transformation projects. The main challenge for customers is trying to develop and retain skilled staff while making sure they can keep up with a rapidly evolving market. With technologies and use cases for AI constantly emerging, the market landscape is continuing to evolve.

The consequences of the skills shortages have made life more challenging for those working on IT in customer organisations.

The SoftwareOne report found that a large number of respondents had seen their workloads increase because of a lack of skilled staff being available, therefore taking a personal toll on people, with a quarter of global IT managers considering quitting as a result of the skills gap.

The other consequence of strained IT teams is increased conflict across departments, with many reporting growing tensions between senior staffers and those trying to implement AI. Life was made more difficult by the aversion many felt to asking bossess for more AI training.

“Rapid advancements in AI and generative AI offer exciting prospects for companies worldwide, but organisations are sitting on a ticking talent time bomb if they don’t upskill and retrain their workforces now to fulfil the potential of AI,” said Brian Duffy, CEO at SoftwareOne.

“Our research shows the overwhelming majority of organisations are planning to upskill their IT teams to fast-track AI adoption and accelerate the cloud journey. By putting people at the centre and showcasing how these innovations can enhance their roles rather than pose threats, organisations can cultivate a culture of empowerment and optimism that helps to increase retention, boost productivity and make work more meaningful,” he added.

The Barracuda research indicated that MSPs recognised the AI opportunity and were looking to skill up themselves to be able to help customers plug their skills gaps.

“MSPs need to remain agile to maintain their role as strategic partners to customers,” said Jason Howells, vice-president of MSP international sales at Barracuda. “The challenges they face are not only technological, but also commercial, such as increased competition and new routes to market.”

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