Three strategies that help achieve the biggest impact from artificial intelligence.
By Sudhir Jha
As the global economy enters the age of artificial intelligence (AI), the conversation about how AI will impact the workforce has reached new heights. Questions around the negative implications of AI—including potential job loss and ethical dilemmas—are forcing organizations to consider a future fueled by autonomy. As more and more organizations are getting their AI strategies in place, HR needs to ensure that their workforce is ready.
According to a recent Infosys report, Leadership in the Age of AI, 73 percent of respondents said that AI has already transformed the way they do business. AI is producing real results and impacting business strategy, growth investment, the competitive landscape, customer experience, recruitment, and team management. With this in mind, there are three approaches that will help HR succeed in the age of AI.
1. Be transparent. Eighty-three percent of respondents said that their organization’s AI deployment is outpacing the accuracy and productivity of comparable human activity for certain tasks. And it’s statistics like these that breed concern and speculation among workers. In fact, 69 percent of C-level executives acknowledged that their employees are concerned that AI technologies will replace them.
However, these fears appear to be unjustified: Only two percent of executives think AI will have a negative effect on employees. Seventy percent of respondents expect AI will have a positive effect on employees, with another 26 percent saying that AI will have neither a positive nor a negative effect. AI will ultimately augment human activity—not replace it—and the findings agree:
- Forty-eight percent said AI augments human skills to make their people better at their jobs.
- Forty-five percent said that AI is making employees more valuable because it frees their time.
HR should be proactive about communicating their company’s AI strategy and benefits to employees. Transparency will not only help reduce fears, but it will also help organizations maximize value derived from their AI deployments. Consider this: Of the organizations that said they have already seen measurable benefits from their AI deployment, 77 percent said that their employees are aware they are using AI. For the organizations that have not seen measurable ROI from their AI deployments, only 46 percent report that their employees are aware of AI’s role.
2. Rethink the approach to hiring. As AI makes its way into the enterprise, new skills will be needed and new roles will be created. Across all industry sectors surveyed, respondents report that recruiting talent with AI skills is absolutely necessary. Forty-nine percent of respondents said that their organization has already changed the way it hires due to their AI deployments.
According to the survey, AI has had the biggest impact on the IT function, and that is expected to continue for the next five years. However, other departments, including marketing, HR, and legal, are also increasingly being impacted by AI.
Due to the wide reach of AI, there should be an increase of professionals trained with AI-related skills. Survey results show that 95 percent of IT decision-makers from organizations in the late stages of digital transformation said that they plan to have a dedicated team of AI professionals. These AI experts will be in high demand and will likely command high salaries.
That’s why organizations would benefit from developing a recruitment approach that is aligned with their company’s AI strategy. This involves understanding the long-term plan for deploying AI technologies and assessing what skills will be needed across every part of the business. In what will only become a more competitive market for AI experts, HR will need to make tough choices about what AI expertise is needed to succeed versus what expertise they could develop in-house or otherwise do without.
3. Invest in the workforce. Businesses planning to deploy AI technology should proportionately invest in their employees. While recruiting talent with AI skills is important, it will be likely be inadequate due to issues of supply and demand. Those skills will be in high demand and, therefore, scarce and costly. As AI increases in scale and drives further change, businesses that embrace training and reskilling current employees will realize long-term benefits.
Organizations that are already successfully using AI recognize the value of training and upskilling employees. The survey found that 53 percent of respondents indicated that their organization has already increased training in the job functions most affected by AI. Forty-six percent of respondents listed employee training as the top area of investment related to their AI deployments. Just as AIdriven transformation will not happen all at once, team training should not be a one-time event.
Driving business change starts at the top. HR needs to work closely with business leaders and encourage them to evolve their own skills and gain a deeper understanding of the technologies that are driving their business forward. If they do not, they will not be able to get the most value out of their AI investment or their team, and they might find that they themselves have become obsolete.
Sudhir Jha is senior vice president of product management and strategy for Infosys.