It’s clear that technology professionals will see their roles transformed with artificial intelligence, requiring skills to be refreshed and new approaches to be learned. Not so clear is the impact of AI on career opportunities for business leaders and professionals, with confusing messages about job replacement and the usurpation of decision-making authority.
The rise of AI, especially generative AI, is likely to have a strong impact on managerial and professional jobs, suggests an analysis by Rakesh Kochhar of Pew Research. “Jobs with a high level of exposure to AI tend to be in higher-paying fields, where a college degree and analytical skills can be a plus. Workers with a bachelor’s degree or more (27%) are more than twice as likely to see the greatest exposure as those with a high school diploma (12%).”
Yet the Pew survey also suggests that professionals in more vulnerable industries don’t feel their jobs are at risk — “they’re more likely to say AI will help more than hurt them personally. For example, 32% of workers say in information and technology that AI will help more than hurt them personally, compared to 11% who say it will hurt more than help.”
Vittorio Cretella, CIO of Procter & Gamble, does not see artificial intelligence as a replacement for human talents, but rather to augment those talents. “The continued rise of artificial intelligence will change the type of work we do and how we do it, but augment rather than replace human capabilities,” he argues. “We still need the skills of digitally savvy, creative human workers who can work effectively with machines.”
AI “will have a profound impact on employees across the entire organization, not just in expert roles such as data science or machine learning engineering,” Cretella points out. “Nearly all employees, regardless of function, will need to become familiar with working with machines, exploring insights and leveraging recommendations that may often be different from what their previous experience would suggest.”
For business leaders, priorities in the AI age must shift to greater investment in “talent and employee upskilling, while insourcing strategic capabilities such as data science and machine learning technology,” Cretella advocates. This requires a balancing act among leaders and managers who “must facilitate the combination of human and machine strengths, create the organizational focus and culture that encourages continuous learning and the application of AI to improve business results.”
AI, implemented successfully, “will augment human skills, not simply supplant or replace them,” Cretella says. “Key human-centered skills include curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, compassion and collaboration.”
Where people will make the biggest difference is problem definition, he continues. This consists of “decomposing a problem through key questions and identifying patterns before trying to define an algorithmic solution. We need managers and teams to focus on that phase to develop inquisitive skills and dedicate enough time before jumping for solutions.”
P&G’s approach is to “always start with the work to be done, whether it’s maximizing media reach, improving manufacturing quality or defining the shelf layout for the best consumer shopping experience,” Cretella illustrates. “What matters is the ability to define the hypothesis and the problems, the curiosity to explore data and the power of AI to find the answers.”
It still requires curiosity and a sense of what people need to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive economy. “Technology alone doesn’t change things – people do,” he emphasizes. “The future of leadership is with an AI-savvy generation of business leaders who are curious, have little or no cognitive bias, and understand what organizational design, processes and resources are needed to unlock the power of data and machine learning.”
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