Many companies are still perplexed about the best AI strategy for the future of their business. However, one thing they are sure of is that AI professionals will have a massive role to play in the success or failure of their future endeavours.
Finding the right AI talent can be tricky, as it is still unclear what the perfect machine learning engineer or data scientist looks like. Can such a thing even exist or will it always be a case of the right person for the right job?
Competition is extremely fierce!! The most talented individuals are all being snatched up by massive technology firms and in some cases, college graduates with advanced degrees in AI are commanding upwards of six-figure salaries. So how can companies in industries other than tech overcome these immense disadvantages and acquire the right ai talent for their business?
The following are three key tactics which can help to do just that...
1. Understanding Your Business Needs.
Given the plethora of ways in which AI could be deployed to further a company’s objectives, executive leadership teams must evaluate their business needs both immediate and in the future. It is also important to clearly define how AI can help support them.
One way to narrow the focus initially is to identify a discrete need—for example, natural language processing in customer experience or robotic process automation in supply chain management. Then bring in AI experts to conduct a pilot project to achieve quick wins. The results from these efforts can be used to enlighten business leaders on the applications and impact of AI in order to support enterprise-wide investments.
2. Have adequate foundations been laid to support top ai talent?
Many organisations, especially outside the tech industries are only at the beginning of their journey. Moving forward, it is vital they build solid foundations that support Artificial Intelligence before beginning to recruit top AI talent. Pilot programs are the most effective way by allowing companies to build skills, learn and adjust their strategy as they go.
Strong executive leadership helps promote AI adoption and deployment. Cross-functional collaboration is also critical, given the need to tightly integrate most AI projects with the business. Without meaningful coordination among functional leaders such as the CIO, CMO, and CFO, a fledgeling AI executive might otherwise become frustrated and exit quickly, wasting valuable time, resources and even goodwill. AI projects that fizzle without producing results will just make it harder to gain support for future efforts.
3. What does the ideal AI talent look like for your company?
When recruiting AI talent, an organisation must strike the right balance between not just compensation but the cultural fit as well.
The right ratio of AI knowledge and executive experience determines the right cultural fit. Yet a strong pedigree is no guarantee that the executive possesses the leadership skills and emotional intelligence required to excel as a newly anointed “AI saviour” in a more traditional organization.
Companies must be willing to pay 'above the sticker price' for top AI talent. However, an organisation can provide a counter-weight to reduce the amount of compensation by offering the opportunity to transform the company or an entire industry through AI. This can be a compelling challenge in its own right.
Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed a significant increase in the desire of top talent to have a social-purpose angle in their next role or employer. This trait is especially true among younger executives. Other intangibles, such as the opportunity to form strategic partnerships with universities, publish company-sponsored research or support important research projects can also make the opportunity more attractive.
With AI use-cases in business set to rise in the coming years, companies should ensure that their journey starts soon and with talent aligned to their strategy and operational capabilities. Additionally, with organisations realising more and more the importance of ai in their business, competition is only set to increase again. Organisations must act fast to secure suitable AI talent or risk losing out to competitors.