Generative AI is reshaping knowledge work. Are you ready?
One of the hallmarks of digital transformation is rapid innovation that keeps businesses afloat in a sea of competition. Today generative AI is easily the fastest boat in the race and organizations are quickly coming on board.
Perhaps not quickly enough. Twenty-eight percent of 14,000 workers are using gen AI in the workplace, with 32% expecting to use it soon, according to Salesforce research1. Presumably, this excludes the pockets of shadow AI that pervade most companies.
As an IT leader, your company’s velocity and nautical mileage for adopting new solutions will vary. Yet even if gen AI holds great promise there is a sizeable gap in the number of technology tools available and the capabilities of employees to put them to use.
Let’s assume that delta closes in the coming months. What then?
Experts believe gen AI will reshape how knowledge workers work, including creating some coveted roles that are highly skilled and well paid.
For you IT leaders out there, there are a lot of opportunities to educate employees on how to use gen AI services. You must help train staff to become adept at not only creating prompts that generate content but leverage that content to improve the way they work.
There is a flipside to that coin: Employees must lean into the training and then practice what they learn if they are going to use gen AI to substantially augment their roles.
How gen AI will reshape roles
Some companies are recruiting gen AI prompt engineers, content curators and storytellers. Such experts might query gen AI services and fashion the resulting into content for marketing, sales or other business lines. Imagine natural language ninjas with unparalleled skills at phrasing prompts.
Yet it is unlikely that prompt engineers, AI curators or storytellers will yield many full-time positions. Part of the secret sauce of prompt engineering is knowing about what you’re asking a gen AI system to produce information. This helps you detect false information or even sniff out biases.
This means knowing a good deal about the domain content (and context) for which you may be querying a gen AI system. Few people have cultivated the cross-disciplinary training to execute prompts for every business lines — let alone curate the resulting knowledge.
What is more likely is that gen AI will augment rather than forge new roles. That is, prompt engineering will be a skill — preferred for some, required for others — that employees cultivate.
Naturally, organizations are bullish. Seventy-six percent of IT decision makers surveyed expect that gen AI’s impact will be significant or transformative for their organization, leading to productivity gains, streamlined processes and cost savings, among other net positives, according to a Dell survey2.
Indeed, employees are already using gen AI services to automate administrative and other tasks. Many marketers practice prompt engineering to generate content. HR associates prompt to help craft job descriptions. Sales staff organize sales motions with gen AI and product developers craft specifications.
Researchers save time sorting and synthesizing data or conducting searches of existing studies, while teachers use it to grade tests and flesh out lesson plans. Lawyers spend less time researching cases, while writers create storyboards for their content plans.
Training and reskilling are essential
Yet these roles have a common thread: Human workers still need to fact-check, edit, revise and perform the critical thinking required to make sure the gen AI outputs are correct and of high quality. Humans must always be in the loop, providing quality assurance.
Skeptical? Consider that as much as 30% of hours worked today may be automated by 2030, according to McKinsey, which estimates that more than 12 million occupational changes must occur to accommodate the changes wrought by gen AI.
Which leads us to the major mission: Training, education and reskilling to work with gen AI technologies is essential. You’ll start by positioning gen AI as a collaborator, not a usurper of roles, to the broader organization.
This will require understanding how gen AI capabilities may be infused into employee workflows, as well as the incorporation of tight feedback loops to account for users’ experiences. Feedback is the friend who will help you course-correct along your gen AI journey.
You’ll support and celebrate your AI champions. Those early gen AI adopters that became experts? Dispatch them to facilitate peer training and hands-on-keyboard experimentation. Such efforts may require role reconfiguration but it will be worthwhile.
Holistically, these steps will help business leaders and rank-and-file staff alike understand how to use gen AI apps to boost productivity, optimize processes and reduce costs, drive innovation and add new revenue streams.
Partnering is your path to success
You will still face hurdles. Even if you train employees and get them to use gen AI tools for their jobs you may struggle to hire enough technical talent to engineer, implement and operate large language models.
Having access to the right large language model (LLM) and professional services could go a long way to empowering your people and your data to become differentiators versus your competition. How do you do this amid the scrum for talent and superior models?
You’ll partner with organizations that specialize in working with gen AI technologies, including how to implement and operate the LLMs and complimentary developer tools, as well as the hardware they run on. Such trusted advisors will help you right-size your environments and adopt flexible architectures, validated reference designs and blueprints.
Ultimately, it’s incumbent upon all companies help train their employees to consume gen AI software and services. Wait too long and you’ll find yourself boat-raced out of contention.