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How to future proof your career in the world of Artificial Intelligence

PUBLISH DATE 19th July 2019

AI is certainly one of the biggest buzzwords today, and it is not without reason. A recent survey by Gartner covering 89 countries found that there has been a massive 270% jump in AI implementations in the last four years. This growth is only set to continue. The artificial intelligence (AI) market, which was valued at $21.5 billion in 2018, is expected to touch $190.6 billion by 2025 as per a report by Markets and Markets.This massive growth in AI makesabsolute sense when you look at the benefits that AI adoption brings to enterprises and businesses. One, it can help companies automate several repetitive, painstaking processes. It can also help provide unprecedented visibility through advanced analytics, thereby helping to improve decision-making significantly. A report by the MIT Sloan Management Review in collaboration with BCG Henderson Institute found that 91 percent of enterprises expect AI to deliver new business growth by 2023. With the growing adoption of big data, cloud, and robotics, we can expect AI adoption to take off in a big way.

Impact on Jobs

Any discussion on the growth of AI inevitably veers towards its impact on the job market. While there are concerns about the inevitable job losses that AI will bring, most of these narratives seem to miss the big picture. The fears about job losses are not unfounded, though. By 2030, as many as 800 million people around the world will lose their jobs to automation as per a study by the McKinsey Global Institute. But we need to juxtapose these statistics with reports such as a recent World Economic Forum study. The study finds that while 75 million jobs will be displaced by 2022 due to the onslaught of machines and algorithms, this very trend is also expected to create about 133 million new roles.

If we look at the absolute numbers, AI will likely create more jobs than it will destroy. However, the new jobs that emerge will require new sets of skills, which are in short supply today. As per the EY- Nasscom ‘Future of Jobs in India’ report, 9 percent of the workforce will be deployed in new jobs that do not exist today. This could happen as early as 2022. In addition, 37 percent are likely to be deployed in jobs that require radically different skill sets. These new jobs will likely place a premium on innovative thinking, creativity, and analytical abilities.

There are several new job roles such as data scientist, robotics scientist, business intelligence developer, AI software developer that are gaining currency, as AI comes to the forefront.

Next Steps to Grab a job in AI

Whether you are already a part of the industry or a fresher or job aspirant, it makes sense to invest in gaining the requisite skills to prepare for a career in AI. But merely doing a random MOOCs course or learning a new programming language isn’t enough. This often results in inadequate knowledge that is not sufficient to bag your dream job. As we discussed earlier there are two major applications of AI where there is a lot of work going on in the industry. One is applications in Data Science and analytics & the other is Robotic process automation.

To build a career in Data Science / AI, it isn’t simply about learning a new programming language. Working in data science requires well-rounded knowledge in areas such as statistics, mathematics, NLP, etc. in addition to programming. It also requires good communication skills and an ability to match business problems with technology solutions. Apart from AI basics, it is useful to delve deeper into subjects such as data science, machine learning, deep learning, Python etc.

Similarly to build a career in Robotic process automation, it is important to know of platforms and technologies which are popular in the RPA space - like Ui-Path and Automation-anywhere.

Most importantly, in both areas what is most critical is to have hands-on learning through projects and actual technology execution. While choosing a course to further your AI skills, it makes sense to opt for a blended learning approach – with a mix of online self-learning, interactive sessions, projects and labs to ensure that by the end of it, one has good hands-on experience and thorough understanding of how things work. This kind of approach would get you job-ready for the opportunities out there.

Future Ahead

As data analytics and AI becomes increasingly mainstream, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find the right talent to implement projects in these areas. In such a scenario, having the right skills indeed allows professionals to command a premium. For instance, last year, TCS announced that it would double the salary for freshers who possess new-age digital skills in fields such as AI/ML. And for experienced professionals, most companies have a significant premium in their compensation for people with high demand skills like AI/ML.

The future will hold huge opportunities for those who have the right skills and many threats for those with legacy skills which go out of demand. By investing in learning the right skills, you can prime yourselves for a successful career that allows you to grow steadily over the years. Now is a good time to start!

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