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A recent report by Goldman Sachs estimates that nearly 300 million global jobs could be subject to automation, and a quarter of all work could be replaced by generative AI.
As chatbots are now able to write content and create visuals, AI threatens to disrupt jobs such as designers and software engineers, taking over a wide range of repetitive work tasks now handled by humans. But on a broader level, AI is emerging as a functional influencer, with unknown implications from senior executive positions all the way to call center operations.
More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt AI technology in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report published in May, which surveyed 803 companies worldwide.
We asked three experts closely monitoring the deployment of AI in the world of work for their views on how technology is changing the roles of professionals from C-suite to middle management and service.
Group C will have a new role as head of the AI
Every C-suite has executives who oversee privacy and data, so AI can spur the creation of a lead AI officer and entire departments that oversee AI security, says Asha Palmer, senior vice president of compliance solutions at digital learning platform Skillsoft.
“Ten years ago, you would rarely find a Chief Privacy Officer. Now, every company has one,” Ballmer said. “When you think of data privacy being a department with people who specialize in it, I think AI could take a very similar approach.”
As AI takes off, the Chief AI Officer will be the key decision-maker on technical priorities moving across the organization. Ballmer said companies need to take precautions and create guardrails to oversee the use of AI, and that starts with training employees on how to use chatbots and generative AI.
“You have to teach employees not to copy company information to generative AI, which includes meeting transcripts and sensitive company documents,” she said. “If employees are properly trained, these rules need to be top of mind before they are used.”
The future CIO will not only be tasked with training employees and providing safety measures, but will also likely focus on the transparency of AI use, including how companies disclose environmental, social and governance issues that may be present in the algorithms.
“Transparency mechanisms include How do you check for bias? What is the percentage of bias? What is the percentage of accuracy? What is your list of sources?” Palmer said. “For companies that use or buy AI, you should ask AI companies what their transparency metrics are, how often they audit and verify those metrics, and ask them to make this information public-facing.”
Service, call center jobs will have fewer barriers to entry
As roles change with AI, the technology will reduce required skills and entry barriers in specific jobs and industries, according to Shahar Chen, CEO and co-founder of Aquant, an AI-powered platform for service industries.
Chen said AI will positively impact service companies, especially those with repair technicians and call center agents, in the sense that AI will help these roles and reduce the skills required to perform them.
“What AI changes is that the skills you need to be a communications agent or technician are now very low,” Chen said. “If I’m answering the phone, and you call me a broken washing machine, I can just ask the AI, ‘How can I instruct my customer to fix a leaking washing machine?'” The only skill I need is to be able to read from a screen.
With lower barriers to entry for a call center technician or agent, companies will be able to cast a broader network to potential employees. Artificial intelligence will also change customer demand, because if there are more technicians in the field, customers will expect faster results.
Middle managers need to adopt AI quickly
Employees and businesses need to embrace AI where they can and benefit from it, and nowhere could that be more important than in middle management, says Danny KingAnd CEO and co-founder At Accredible, a digital credential platform that works with clients from Google to MIT, Harvard, and McGraw Hill.
Office workers are challenged, but roles in middle management, specifically, he said, “it’s a mystery how AI will affect them.”
The optimistic case for middle managers: Whether it’s an AI department or changes in how hardware technicians are hired, middle management will be needed across all industries as long as they adapt and evolve with the changes technology creates.
The same idea applies to consulting, human resources and project management. King said that AI can automate the mundane tasks of these roles and allow humans to focus on more creative and high-value work. “Most people are afraid of replacing these jobs, but I think AI will help them and they are more likely to be safe,” he said.
But even with the many benefits of integrating AI into the workplace, Ballmer said it would be a mistake to ignore the risks that will emerge as more employees use it.
“We’re not going to get everything right in the first round, because there will be risks that we may not be able to predict,” Palmer said. “But there is a lot of opportunity to increase education, awareness, knowledge gathering and building. There are huge efficiencies that AI can build, and so they will never go away.”
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