How Artificial Intelligence (AI) will shape the future of the corporate world
Article by: Corporate Hacker on 02/26/2023 | Republished with permission. Read the original article here.
In true “if you can’t beat them, join them” fashion I’ve been reflecting a lot on the impact of the latest AI trends, specially Generative AI (like ChatGPT or Dall-E), on the corporate world. Before thinking about the impact let’s try to distil what’s happening underneath.
What doors are being opened?
From decision to creation
Until 2 months ago, AI was primarily associated with decision making. What is the optimal price for this product?, should I offer this product to my client?, is this picture from a cat? Decisions usually taken by humans with dozens of biases, replaced by a feelingless algorithm. Today we think about AI for creation. Yes-No becomes full stories and draft documents, OCR like image recognition becomes art and faces that don’t exist and we see an exponential growth of AI characters in movies and deep fake videos. This is my favourite so far.
From specific to general
Until 2 months ago, AI was thought to solve parts of a problem, like optimising the price for a product. Today, we envision an AI with the possibility to take over a full problem. Think about the creation of a website, where the AI understands the purpose of the site, designs it, choose and build the technology required and constantly conduct A/B type tests to maximise client engagement. The dream of a corporate businessman… not having to talk with those nasty tech guys.
From data to knowledge
Until 2 months ago, most AI algorithms were trained with an specific application in mind and with the limitations of the available data points. Today, we have seen a machine talking about everything, form hard facts to imaginary stories which provides an added feeling of realism and depth.
What could be the impact on my company?
Skyrocketing productivity… and layoffs
Internet reduced the need for physical sales. Automation (process robotics if you are lazy) reduced back-offices doing mundane tasks. With AI:
Designers and analysts will not only be replaced by algorithms doing 80–90% of the same work in seconds instead of days but will also iterate with hard data to optimise it.
Developers are already accelerating with AI “companions” that autocomplete pieces of code and technical functions (e.g., store this over there) to later see end-to-end AI developers take over more straight forward developments (e.g., a website).
Contact centres will replace 90% of their staff with conversational AI that will only route to humans on a few fancy cases.
Monitoring and 24/7 support jobs will get replaced by AI monitoring massive data (e.g., security cameras, network traffic, factory sensors) with the ability to also optimise how they work.
Pressure for restructuring and layoffs will be higher than ever and countries with less ethics and social concerns will leap above the rest.
Rethinking corporate governance
A problem already, corporate decision making is based on processes built by and for humans. Even its most useless parts provide a sense of traceability and objectivity for someone. With AI:
Uncertainty will have to be accepted, especially in regulated industries, with humans not fully understanding the reasons behind each choice in exchange of the certainty that an optimal result. Employees will act like taxi drivers, constantly complaining that they can do a better job than the GPS to save their jobs… they cant.
Automation will be the only way to trace and audit the decisions taken by machines with degrees of autonomy. Regulators and internal auditors will still fight back to leave some manual controls in place like a human pushing a button.
Facts over feelings, people will no longer be able to lie, with AI “peers” raising the flag. Every decision will be benchmarked with its optimal value to the stakeholder and will have to be overridden by a human to justify any other purpose (e.g., politics, sustainability, equality).
More of everything
The perfect public image conveyed by most companies, solid, efficient, experienced, secure… will be harder and harder to keep. AI will:
Make big problems bigger like Security where the identity of a person will be blurred and machines will trick humans with perfect image and voice replicas. HR and educators will struggle with people fuelling their work with AI content.
Competition will become fiercer, what started with smaller players taking advantage of a leveled technology playfield will expand to quality of service provided by hordes of “free” AI relationship managers. Expertise will be at everyone’s reach, with machines learning years of facts and decisions in minutes. Capital will only play a differential role in asset intensive industries (e.g., manufacture, transport), not for labor.
External pressure will increase in an attempt to save jobs. Regulators will come up with artificial ways to compensate for higher competition masked as corporate greed. Politicians will promise to save jobs from “evil” corporations and public perception will be more important than ever, with the only remaining human in the equation, the client, more relevant than ever…
Like previous revolutions, Generative AI will smash the corporate world and the speed in which it will happen will be far more dramatic, demanding higher resiliency from employees, corporate owners and governments. It will not be easy to hack.