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Will AI Solve the IT Jobs Shortage?

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gartner Symposium & ITxpo – The great fear of artificial intelligence, along with automation, is that the technology will become so powerful over the course of the next few years that it will take over most jobs, making most employees obsolete.

Over the course of the last year, several studies seem to have confirmed such concerns. (See AI Likely to Outperform Humans in Less Than 50 Years.)

However, what if that thinking has it backwards? What happens if AI can help fill a gap in the job market, especially in IT where there is a growing need for digital security, as well as the Internet of Things? If it's impossible to find enough qualified workers, why not automate more and more of these processes through AI?

The role of AI and how it can help companies that are trying to digitally transform their business and IT was one of the central themes of the opening keynote here as Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's executive vice president of research, looked at some of the major trends that are about to change IT over the two to three years.

Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's EVP of research
(Source: ECN)
Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's EVP of research
(Source: ECN)

Specifically, Sondergaard spoke about the coming use of AI, not only as a way to overcome some of the skills gap, but also as a revolutionary technology in its own right.

"Organizations are struggling to find security talent," Sondergaard said during his keynote on October 2. "How will the job market fill the gap? It won't. Instead the answer lies in what is coming next. If we look to 2018 and beyond, we anticipate three high-demand skills: artificial intelligence, digital security and the Internet of Things. In addition to finding value on its own, we believe AI will be critical to solving both digital security and the IoT challenges."

When it comes to AI, Sondergaard urged the audience to hire what he called "AI leaders." However, this is where another problem comes in. Across the globe, there are about 8 million job candidates with IT skills -- however, of that number, only about 1,250 to 1,500 candidates have the right combination of AI skills to make a difference, according to Gartner.

Right now, businesses in the transportation, media and insurance industries are actively and aggressively recruiting these people.

What most enterprises should do is find different ways to bring this AI talent in, whether it's through recruiting new people, retraining other workers, partnering with other firms or simply renting out the people needed to complete the project.

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At the same time companies are looking for AI talent, about 10% of all businesses are baking AI and machine learning into the recruitment process to automate some parts of it and return better results. As Sondergaard pointed out, AI is both pushing and pulling this IT hiring process.

As for the jobs that AI will eliminate, Sondergaard admitted that between now and 2020, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs, but also create 2.3 million at the same time. That's a net gain of about 500,000 positions worldwide.

"One year later, AI augmentation of the workforce will create about $3 trillion in business value, while saving billions of hours of work … so AI will help find, develop and augment your people. AI will be a net job creator starting in 2020."

— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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