Talent shortage restricting AI innovation among banks

Banking institutions in the UK have a growing appetite for innovative AI-driven solutions, but are being held back by a shortage of skills in that area, a new report has shown.

 

New research into AI adoption within financial services organisations in the UK has been released by SambaNova Systems, developer of a platform that allows banks to run AI and Deep Learning applications. The study of market leaders sought to understand the challenges faced when delivering AI-based solutions during a period of accelerated change and transformation.

 

“AI is becoming a huge driver of value to businesses and is set to contribute trillions to the global economy over the next decade,” said Marshall Choy, SVP Product at SambaNova.   “Progressive business leaders are realising the value of AI. However, benefiting from it requires technology teams to deliver. This is where difficulty surfaces for most organisations in the financial sector.”

 

Data from the study shows that over three-quarters of finance technology leaders in the UK are already adopting AI models and algorithms. However, the study uncovered a number of clear challenges, from skills to technical, that are facing banking leaders today.

 

Top three UK enterprise challenges highlighted in the research include: Keeping pace with the speed of model and data growth (78%); Hiring staff with appropriate skills in AI/ML (70%); Finding or customising models and algorithms (67%).

 

“The research shows that financial services decision-makers understand the value they can derive from AI today,” added Choy. “The rapid pace of innovation has presented challenges to technology teams in keeping up.”

 

For banking leaders, AI is a driver of business value, and more than half (56%) said that AI’s business impact will be “transformational” or “significantly improve the business” over the next 12-24 months. For technology leaders in financial services, finding skilled staff across all technology disciplines is difficult. However, the challenge is particularly acute in the specialist field of AI. Some 52% of IT managers reported that they have the budget to hire additional resources for their AI teams while 70% said that hiring the skilled staff is challenging. Over half (52%) said that retention is a challenge too.

 

“You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of technology that is being developed more intensely than AI, especially around large language models such as GPT,” said Chris Kenny, General Manager, EMEA at SambaNova. “The opportunity these models deliver is there for the taking, although technology teams often don’t have the resources or expertise to take advantage of the opportunity. For enterprises struggling to deliver on business leaders’ demands, deploying AI as a service is a fast track, a scalable way to avoid falling behind their competitors. AI is already here at most financial organisations.”

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

 

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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