Artificial Intelligence Has Companies’ Interest, But Not Their Cash

Some 70 percent of companies claim they’re using a form of artificial intelligence (A.I.), according to a new report by Constellation Research. That includes machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, and cognitive computing.

But while companies are interested in what A.I. can potentially do for them, many aren’t willing to invest massive amounts of money in the endeavor. Some 92 percent of respondents reported overall A.I. budgets of less than $5 million, with 52 percent paying less than $1 million. However, most plan to increase their A.I.-related spending over the next year.

For companies pursuing an artificial intelligence strategy, Constellation recommends starting as early as possible, as building out platforms and training algorithms takes time. A company’s data scientists and executives must also start thinking about how to structure their existing databases for interaction with the eventual A.I. platform.

“Conduct a workforce audit and assess your A.I.-talent needs,” the report added. “Create a staffing plan that takes into account your internal talent supply, ability to reskill, recruiting needs, partnerships (with industry leaders or universities) and poaching by competitors.”

Constellation Research offers a number of other tips for gearing up for A.I., so check out the report if you’re interested. The firm interviewed 50 C-level respondents (i.e., CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CDOs) for the survey portion.

For tech pros, this kind of data is good news. If businesses are willing to spend more on A.I. initiatives in the short term, that means more jobs and projects to work on. Earlier this year, analyst firm McKinsey & Company published a report suggesting that fewer than 10,000 professionals actually have the necessary skills to tackle the biggest A.I. problems, which is a key reason why A.I.-related salaries have climbed into the stratosphere. That report also suggested that A.I.-enhanced industries constitute a multi-trillion-dollar market, placing a high ceiling on the demand for talent.

Developing into enough of an A.I. expert to pull down a million-dollar salary takes years and years of education and training; but those totally new to the artificial intelligence field can nonetheless pick up some basic knowledge and skills pretty rapidly, thanks to companies and educational organizations rolling out a variety of learning tools.

For example, Google offers a three-hour course on deep learning and machine-learning tools via its Google Cloud Platform Website, and Facebook hosts a series of videos that break down fundamental A.I. concepts such as algorithms. In terms of online learning, there are Coursera and Udacity, which offer instruction in A.I., and some self-teaching opportunities via materials on GitHub.

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