Take yourself back to February 2020. Life was relatively normal, kids were at school, we physically went into work, and everyone was more certain of the paths they were on. A year later, people of all ages are now a lot more tech savvy, having been forced to work-from-home, do online schooling or have online gatherings, just to keep in touch with loved ones. We have had to embrace the change, and step out of our comfort zones, learning how to use technology to navigate everyday life. While it’s true that South Africa is still behind in digitization, it’s catching up fast thanks to COVID-19, catalyzed by boardrooms across the country focusing on digitization like never before.
One such focus is the efficiency driven by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML). SafriCloud surveyed SA’s leading IT decision makers to assess the sentiment and adoption outlook for these technologies amongst business and IT professionals. The results have been published in an eye-opening report entitled, ‘AI: SA – The state of AI in South African businesses 2021’.
‘Keen to start but facing a few challenges’ was the pervasive theme across the survey respondents, but with the global Machine Learning market projected to grow from $7.3 billion in 2020 to $30.6 billion by 2024*, why do we still see resistance to adoption?
Nearly 60% of respondents said that their business supports them in their desire to implement AI/ML and yet only 25% believed that it is understood well at an executive level. While ‘fear of the unknown’ ranked in the top three adoption challenges both locally and internationally (Gartner, 2020), only 9.34% of respondents cited ‘lack of support from C-suite’ as a challenge.
There is a clear degree of pessimism to the level of skills and knowledge to be found in the South African market. This pessimism is more exaggerated at a senior management level where more than 60% rated ‘low internal skill levels’ as the top challenge facing AI/ML adoption. With nearly 60% of the respondents rating the need to implement AI/ML in the next two years as ‘important’ to ‘very important’ and only 35% of businesses saying they currently have internal resources focused on AI/ML, the skills gap will continue to grow.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning represent a new frontier in business. Like previous generations that faced new frontiers – such as personal computing and the industrial revolution – we can’t predict what these changes might lead to. All we can really say is that business will be different, jobs will be different and how we think will be different. Those open to being different will be the ones that succeed.
Get free and instant access to the full report, to discover whether your business is leading the way or falling behind: https://www.safricloud.com/ai-sa-the-state-of-ai-in-south-african-businesses/
Report highlights include:
- The areas of AI/ML that are focused on the most.
- The state of the AI job market and how to hire.
- Practical steps to train and pilot AI/ML projects.