Lately, one undeniable reality has become increasingly apparent: We are at the brink of a technological revolution. AI rose as a transformative force permeating various industries, reshaping how tasks are executed.
While AI technologies continue to evolve, their impact is already significant, marking a paradigm shift in how we approach work and shape the future workforce. This is especially evident in knowledge jobs or white-collar positions, where the processing of vast amounts of information in a short time frame is crucial.
According to data from the World Economic Forum, executives estimate that 34% of tasks are already automated, and an additional 9% will be automated in the next five years. By 2027, 75% of companies are expected to have adopted AI technologies.
The consequential impact of AI prompts questions: Are knowledge workers potentially going to be replaced?
OpenAI’s recent study on the impact of gen-AI on work found that generative artificial intelligence could impact at least 10% of work tasks, for approximately 80% of the US workforce. And 19% of workers could see at least 50% of their tasks impacted.
So will certain roles become obsolete?
While these concerns may be legitimate, we believe in something else: The conviction that a careful consideration of challenges and opportunities will reveal the potential for a work landscape where humans and AI work collaboratively, unlocking both their true potential.
Let’s delve deeper into the multifaceted impact of AI on the workforce, exploring how workers perceive it and assessing the current state of things. Are we moving towards synergy between humans and AI, or will AI make knowledge workers obsolete?
The impact of AI on productivity and efficiency
As artificial intelligence finds its way into the work floor more and more, it is transforming functions and redefining job roles, and the effects of AI on productivity and efficiency are already felt across functions.
Data from Statista shows that functions like Marketing and Advertising (37%), Technology (35%), Consulting (30%), and even Healthcare (15%) have already adopted AI into their daily work.
96% of employees who are using generative AI tools feel that it increases their productivity, and 61% of workers say AI helps improve their decision-making process. The biggest gains in efficiency are felt in tasks that involve text creation, analytics and reporting (40%).
Another study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that AI-based conversational assistants can increase the number of hourly issues resolved by customer support agents by 14%. Next to this productivity boost, the AI assistants were also found to contribute to better customer sentiment, fewer requests for managerial intervention, and overall better employee retention.
And the trend isn’t likely to stop here.
Current estimates say that functions like Office and administrative support (46%), Legal (44%), Architecture and engineering (37%), Life and social sciences (36%) or Business and financial operations (35%) are the most likely to be automated using AI technologies in the coming years.
At the same time, data from McKinsey's research shows that generative artificial intelligence holds the potential to unleash a substantial surge in productivity across various industries. This surge could contribute up to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy, while reshaping the way we work.
But contrary to concerns about AI eliminating jobs, the World Economic Forum's October 2020 findings suggest that AI is more likely to transform work than eradicate it. A creation of 97 million new jobs across diverse fields like big data, machine learning, information security, and digital marketing is anticipated, offsetting the expected loss of 85 million jobs to AI in 2025.
For example, the WEF predicts that AI will create new types of jobs such as:
- LLM trainers who will specialize in specific applications of gen-AI across industries,
- Explainers, who will be the equivalent of user experience designers for LLMs, and will design interfaces for interacting with AI systems,
- Sustainers, or people who will make sure that AI systems are used in the best way possible, and these will include content creators, data curators and trainers, and ethics and governance specialists.
So although the consensus is that AI is likely to transform the work of higher-wage knowledge workers first and foremost, it’s also generally accepted that humans won’t be left behind by the AI revolution, and that instead of people being replaced by machines, what we’ll witness will be a reskilling revolution, as we pave the way towards human-AI synergy and the future of work.
The reskilling revolution and its consequences on the workforce
If we consider this imminent future where AI is set to define the workforce, one of the great consequences is the possibility for professionals to allocate more time to strategic work, fostering the possibility to unlock their true potential.
By now, it is clear that gen-AI can significantly impact any function or role that deals with content creation and unstructured data - from generating text and creating videos to analyzing data and writing code snippets.
Despite the revolutionary nature of these tech advancements, the reception is not universal applause, as this means that knowledge workers need to not only learn how to integrate AI into their daily work and automate their processes for efficiency, but they also need to reskill and refocus on value-adding tasks that cannot be taken over by machines.
And this reskilling needs to happen as we speak.
Data from IBM shows that 40% of the workforce will need to acquire new skills over the next 3 years - a staggering 1.4 to 3.4 billion people in the global workforce. Entry-level roles will be the most impacted, with executive and senior management roles being less likely to change (22%).
In order to take the challenges associated with this transformative force AI is, it is upon organizations to proactively tackle these, ensuring a seamless transition wherein humans and AI collaborate.
We have listed for you some of the actions that can be taken.
- One thing companies can do is investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Offer training programs for workers to delve into the latest AI technologies and their practical applications, empowering them to achieve their career objectives and remain competitive in the foreseeable future.
- Also, organizations can invest in AI tools that facilitate the synergy between humans and machines; allowing humans to focus on leveraging their unique competencies - creative tasks, emotional intelligence, and complex decision-making, while AI handles routine and data-intensive activities. An illustration of this is Carv: an AI “workmate” handling time-consuming tasks, and generating personalized and actionable about, leaving time for humans to do what they do best. This, and similar AI tools, unlock the full potential of both human and machine capabilities by facilitating a synergy between them.
- Nonetheless, the responsibility doesn't lie with companies solely. Employees need to enhance their skills and acquire new ones as well to stay competitive in this technological revolution. The demand for skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving is expected to rise, opening up new and dynamic career paths, and, maybe more suited to present time: the gates to the technological revolution to open - a revolution that you and I can become part of.
Along with such initiatives, organizations must prioritize addressing employee concerns and potential job insecurity to foster work environments that ensure their employees’ well-being. This involves cultivating a culture of transparency and support when implementing AI tooling and redefining processes and ways of working.
That being said, we can conclude that AI is reshaping the workplace, heralding a future where synergy between humans and machines is paramount.
We stand at the brink of this technological revolution; a paradigm shift where AI is embraced in the workplace, ready to transform it. The time to act is now, seizing the unprecedented opportunities for growth, innovation, and enhanced job satisfaction that AI presents.
Each company plays a unique role in this transformation, tasked with envisioning how AI will shape their operations, and proactively planning for a future where humans and machines synergistically collaborate. Because in this near future, we navigate towards a working landscape that thrives on harnessing the true potential of both entities, paving the way for revolutionary successes with foresight.