The early 1990s portrayed a grim scenario. There was a financial downturn, leading industries like steel production suffered significant damage, and unemployment soared to record levels. At that time, economists foresaw persistent stagnation in the following decade.
Then, in the mid-1990s, an extraordinary occurrence took place. The Internet emerged for commercial use, and the World Wide Web expanded rapidly. Technologists transitioned from being agents of corporate efficiency to becoming catalysts for business revolution, shaping markets. Business leaders and professionals have, in various ways, transformed into technology pioneers, harnessing the potential of computers and online resources to introduce innovative concepts to emerging online markets.
We are witnessing a similar shift these days with the rise of democratized AI. Empowering everyone with AI capabilities is resulting in new approaches to work and conducting business. Consequently, executives and professionals alike need to grasp its influence on their career prospects.
Undoubtedly, today’s professionals echo this sentiment – at least 81% believe that utilizing or enhancing their comprehension of generative AI will be critical for advancing their careers, as per a survey by SenseWide and Snaplogic. A recent survey of 1,000 mid-level office professionals commissioned by also indicates that about 50% utilize generative AI for research, and 21% employ it for coding.
However, this revolution is only in its infancy. More than two-thirds of employees, 68%, convey a lack of sufficient understanding of generative AI for their current roles, and 53% express a desire for additional training and guidance.
In the corporate domain, company leaders are recognizing the impact AI will have on careers and employment. Rachel Roumeliotis, vice president of AI and data content strategy at O’Reilly Media, emphasizes the necessity for everyone to comprehend AI and its potential. She envisions leveraging skills such as rapid engineering. “Being capable of obtaining what you require from a tool like ChatGPT will be essential as it is the new Excel.”
Frederick Arnold, senior vice president of human resources at GTT, perceives AI as a disruptor of job roles, while also creating new vocational opportunities. He affirms that AI excels in tasks like data analysis and automation, but human abilities such as critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving continue to hold significant value.
Consequently, aspiring professionals and managers “need to focus on cultivating these skills that are challenging to replicate through AI, as they are fundamental to team management, relationship building, and making intricate decisions,” adds Arnold. “The prevailing notion that AI will supplant human jobs is incorrect. AI will enhance human capabilities rather than replace them. AI will empower the human workforce to assume a more strategic and creative role within their organizations, thus enabling exciting career prospects.”
According to Ananth Shekhar, head of AI at TCS, executives and professionals do not necessarily require an in-depth understanding of building and implementing AI. “The crucial aspect is to comprehend what AI can accomplish, how to derive benefits from it, the associated risks, and methods to mitigate those risks.”
Echoing the digital revolution that commenced in the mid-1990s, Sekar emphasizes the significance of innovation, delivering experiences, and entrepreneurial skills. He envisions a heightened demand for critical thinking and situational judgment among workers and underscores the need for more, not fewer, management skills. With AI driving substantial and swift change, change management will become critical in aiding individuals in adapting to new work methodologies.
The ramifications of the AI revolution remain inconsistent. Sekar anticipates the most pronounced impacts in education, law, communications, and similar knowledge-based areas in the near term. He also foresees transformation in manufacturing, logistics, and supply chains in the medium term, not solely due to AI, but also due to other innovations that will intersect with AI, such as the Internet of Things, predictive analytics, and 3D printing.
To remain competitive, Arnold stresses that business leaders need to comprehend how AI can enhance productivity, decision-making, and efficiency, regardless of the technical nature of their roles. Professionals who grasp AI concepts can make well-informed decisions pertaining to the adoption, implementation, and utilization of AI applications within their domains. They can proactively identify areas within their organization where AI can optimize processes, reduce costs, enhance customer experience, or provide a competitive advantage. They may recognize AI’s potential to foster innovation, identify new revenue streams, and improve operational efficiency.