Machine learning: How to go from theory to reality

A lack of skilled people continues to stymie the AI revolution. That’s why smart companies invest as much in cultural change as technology adoption—and Google shows how

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We’re awash in increasingly sophisticated machine learning technologies. Too bad so few people know how to use them.

As recent 451 Research survey data indicates, a lack of skilled people continues to stymie the AI revolution. Indeed, people—not tech—have been the cause of slower-than-expected uptake of everytechnological revolution. This is why smart companies invest as much in cultural change as technology adoption.

Machine learning’s hype and hope

Not that anyone is allowing the abilityto make use of machine learning to get in the way of claiming benefits therefrom. Just look at the ongoing rise in mentions of AI and machine learning on public earnings calls. All executives want to pretend their company is going big on machine learning. Yes, AI mentions dipped briefly in the latest quarter, but the long-term trend is up and to the right—without commensurate investments to make that cheap talk pay rich dividends.

To wit, when 451 Research asked the biggest barriers to machine learning, 36 percent said they don’t know where the On button is, with another 32 percent saying they can’t afford it or don’t really know what to do with the data, as Figure 1 shows.

451 ai01 skills 451 Research

Figure 1: Responses to the question “What is your organization's most significant barrier to using machine learning?” from 209 respondents, from 451 Research’s “Voice of the Enterprise: AI & Machine Learning, Adoption, Drivers & Stakeholders 2018” report.

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