The AI Pendulum Swings

History is replete with examples of pendulum swings. In other words, reactions—or overreactions—to pivotal events, developments, or new realities in society. We saw security measures drastically increased in the wake of the terror attacks on 9/11. Even more recently, a worldwide virus outbreak precipitated the most draconian public response in decades. We are currently in the midst of one such pendulum swing. With the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) in the marketplace, there is an increased possibility, and likelihood, of a pendulum swing.

AI Affects Employment

Most industry observers agree that AI will affect the worldwide job market. This could mean jobs being merged or outright replaced by AI. A recent report from Forrester Research predicted that AI is likely to supplant some 5% of US jobs by 2030. It concluded that AI is going hard for white collar jobs.

Employee Productivity

All of this “doom and gloom” as a result of AI adoption take a toll on the average worker’s psyche. According to a study by McKinsey, “75% of the value that generative AI delivers falls across four areas: Customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and R&D.” The same study estimates this value to be in the range of $2.6T to $4.4T USD. Individuals working in these areas are right to be concerned, if these numbers are to be taken seriously.

What are Employers Doing?

With as cutting-edge of a technology as AI is, perhaps the best response to it is nothing new: Transparency. Employers that maintain a policy of transparency can expect to maintain productivity now and even fortify their employees against the pendulum swing of AI. When people know what’s coming, they can be best prepared for it. If you’re looking to adopt AI in any way in your organization, involve your team in the process.

If transparency hasn’t always been your organization’s strong suit. Now is a good time to implement some measures. This is a great first step. The reality may be that you aren’t going to move on AI for a few quarters or even a year. Maybe you’re not an early adopter. If that’s the case, make it known. If your roadmap is more aggressive, broadcast it. Being up front is a great way to mitigate negative effects as the AI pendulum swings.

A Cause for Optimism

When asked just how dire the situation is for workers, J.P. Gownder of Forrester Research had this to say: “The history of AI and jobs is this, however: There have always been more forecasts of job losses than actual jobs lost.” The point here is that yes, AI will impact workers, add value, increase productivity, but the impact to the workforce will likely not be as harsh as forecasted. The pendulum will without a doubt swing. Nevertheless, as with other disruptive technology—like the internet itself—the market will adjust, and new opportunities will arise. It’s important to remember this as we continue to march into this brave new world—one where AI plays a significant role.

Processes Matter

It’s during these periods of pendulum swinging when processes matter. Organizations that have invested the effort to build solid practices around hiring, training, and enablement are better situated to both understand and capitalize on the AI pendulum swing. They are also better able to realize how far the pendulum will swing and whether or not their actions will prove to be overreach or in line with what is appropriate.

If you’re watching as the AI pendulum swings but aren’t interested in getting hit on the backswing, we can help. We work with companies of all sizes to help them best capitalize on the opportunities present today and better prepare themselves for changes that will undoubtedly come. Let’s start the conversation.  

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