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AI Era paradox: businesses prioritising coding over critical thinking

Alteryx, a leader in AI for enterprise analytics, released findings from independent research revealing the workforce side effects of AI. As business leaders and recruiters across Australia prepare for an AI-infused labour market transition, many existing roles will evolve and become obsolete, reshaping the skill stack of the future workforce at an accelerated pace. However, the research titled Defining the Enterprise of the Future highlights a disconnect between the skills and traits currently prioritised during the hiring process and the attributes needed to reap AI’s greatest benefits.

New roles emerge as organisations prepare for the future

While AI may already impact the current workforce, it’s critical to stay ahead, develop new skills and prepare for this ever-changing business landscape.

  • 67% anticipate the emergence of the Chief AI Officer role will be critical to a more holistic approach to AI strategy that collaborates with business units from IT and compliance to HR and People teams. For context, just over 400 globally have CAIO in their LinkedIn job titles.
  • AI applications engineers (47%), responsible for designing and developing AI-powered models; AI/ML engineer (42%), focuses on researching, building and designing self-running artificial intelligence; and AI research scientists (33%), who drive innovation through the research and development of AI systems, are three most urgent hiring priorities cited by business leaders.
  • Comparatively fewer said that they are urgently hiring AI whisperers (21%) and prompt engineers (15%) tasked with communicating with and guiding AI systems. However, the labour market is set to shift again, as over half (57%) expect these roles to be necessary as GenAI transitions from exploration to widescale rollout.

The future brings a new look to data and IT teams

As teams look to the future, the findings provide a snapshot of which roles are set to become obsolete, emerging roles to gravitate toward, and skills required for the evolving era of AI-infused intelligence.

  • Database administration (31%), Repetitive coding (24%), Single-language software development (17%), and AI and ML Development (13%) are among the technical skill sets that will become obsolete. 
  • 70% say that their organisation currently operates in a very siloed way, but 51% believe that data teams of the future will need to be decentralised to ensure data is available to teams who need it across the business.
  • 65% believe that over the next three years, the advanced tech talent landscape will be characterised by a talent surplus, and 72% say that there will be a surplus of general tech talent through the increasing accessibility and user-friendliness of generative AI technology.

Shifting priorities for the tech labour market

While the overall consensus is that humanity’s importance increases in an AI world as humans will do what AI cannot, findings demonstrate a disconnect in skill focus. Despite the well-documented AI skills gap, where demand has far outstripped supply, many businesses still prioritise recruiting for roles with highly sought-after technical skills.

There’s growing recognition for soft skills in collaborating with and questioning the outputs of intelligent systems, so are leaders focused on the wrong recruitment priorities?

  • Only 26% cite building human capacity and preparing for a labour market transition are important considerations for an AI world.
  • While 76% of respondents say it is more important for their employees to be multi-skilled than specialising in a specific area, upskilling priorities still favour hard skills over soft skills.
  • Expertise in AI, software, data analysis and mining, and financial analysis and planning all ranked ahead of the most in-demand soft skills, including data literacy, strategic thinking, digital literacy, and team leadership.
  • 68% cite creativity as the top skill humans will supply in a working world shaped by AI, followed by critical thinking (47%), emotion (41%), and morality (35%), yet only 16% counted critical thinking and 27% counted creativity in the top three in-demand skills.

“The rapid rise of AI requires business leaders to build and shape the future workforce now to thrive or risk lagging behind in a future transformed by a seismic shift in the skills needed for the era of intelligence,” said Libby Duane-Adams, Chief Advocacy Officer at Alteryx. “Not all employees need to become data scientists. It’s about championing cultures of creative problem-solving, learning to look at business problems through an analytic lens, and collaborating across all levels to empower employees to use data in everyday roles. Continuous investments in data literacy upskilling and training opportunities will create the professional trajectories where everyone can “speak data” and exploit AI applications for trusted, ethical outcomes.”

To learn more about the Enterprise of the Future, download the full report from Alteryx.

About the Research

The survey was conducted by Coleman-Parkes in September and October 2023, and targeted 2,800 IT decision-makers, data analysts, and line of business leaders about the enterprise of the future. Respondents were based in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia (150), and the UK. There was equal representation of the public sector, manufacturing (including supply chain), financial services and banking, and technology. Companies ranged in size from fewer than 500 employees to more than 10,000. 60% had an average revenue of more than $1 billion.



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