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Organisations must act now to fill the AI skills and leadership vacuum, Hexaware stresses

Hexaware, a leading global provider of IT services and solutions, cautioned today that organisations worldwide are at risk of bloated investments and costly mistakes due to an AI skills and leadership vacuum. As organisations increasingly adopt AI and GenAI technologies, this vacuum threatens to undermine their efforts and derail potential benefits. LinkedIn’s Future of Work Report revealed a 21-fold increase in job postings mentioning AI technologies between November 2022 and August 2023. Despite the burgeoning demand, AWS found that almost three-quarters of UK organisations are struggling to find the AI talent they need. Another report revealed that just over one in ten firms have appointed a Chief AI Officer, signaling a significant shortfall in AI leadership.

“Organisations are creating a major headache for themselves, as they ramp up their deployment of AI and increasingly GenAI without the qualified people who understand it and can oversee it,” cautioned Arun ‘Rak’ Ramchandran, President & Global Head – GenAI Consulting &Practice, Hi-Tech & Professional Services, Hexaware. “Even if organisations can bring in technical AI skills by offering compelling salaries, these investments could be frittered away without the right direction and under the right leadership. Organisations need a clear game plan and vision for where AI can add value in the long term, or else they risk projects that will not deliver a strong return on investment. Worse still is the potential for regulatory non-compliance, IP leakage, or lasting reputational damage if employees tune the model incorrectly, let biases creep in models, fail to adjust for objectionable or non-compliant outputs, or inadvertently mishandle sensitive data, due to a lack of proper AI guardrails, governance and oversight.”

To fill the vacuum, organisations need AI & GenAI leaders with a healthy mix of ‘hard’ skills – possessing deep technical knowledge of models, architecture, data & security – and ‘soft’ & semi-soft skills around governance, change, and people. The Alan Turing Institute highlights that an effective AI leader must be able to interface between technical and business teams, mitigating negative impacts on the workforce while ensuring activity aligns with company objectives. The best candidates often come from within.

In many cases, by transitioning an existing leader with the right basic skills and mindset to head up AI, organisations can capitalise on their in-depth knowledge of the workforce and business strategy. Organisations can supplement the soft skills of this leader with the technical expertise of trusted external services partners well-versed in AI technologies to help them drive informed, strategic decisions.
“Being appointed to lead an organisation’s AI strategy may be daunting, especially for an executive transitioning from another role. External experts will prove crucial, helping AI leaders to succeed by bridging short-term skills or knowledge gaps,” continued Ramchandran. With most organisations already moving forward with AI, the time to act is now. “The stakes are too high for organisations to engage in AI without proper leadership and a clear, strategic vision,” he concluded. Hexaware’s call to action underscores the urgency for organisations to cultivate the right mix of skills, leadership, and partnerships to unlock AI’s benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

About Hexaware:
Hexaware is a global technology and business process services company. Our 28,300 Hexawarians wake up every day with a singular purpose; to create smiles through great people and technology. With 45+ offices in 16 countries, we empower enterprises worldwide to realize digital transformation at scale and speed by partnering with them to build, transform, run, and optimize their technology and business processes. Learn more about Hexaware at https://www.hexaware.com.