From the industrial to the digital revolution, the introduction of new technology has always changed the way we work and the products and services we need. Artificial intelligence, especially generative AI such as ChatGPT, is the next wave of radical transformation. While AI is certainly a buzzword, we understand that it will have a deep impact on how companies do business. PwC reported that 54 percent of CEOs are already feeling the impact of AI within their organizations, and the White House held a summit in early May to discuss these and other growing concerns about AI with leaders from major tech companies such as Microsoft and Google.
Onramp has worked with leading tech companies and currently helps them upskill their employees and hire diverse engineering talent through apprenticeship programs—a workforce development strategy that accelerates candidate skill development and job readiness via paid on-the-job training and assessment. As such, we have a front-row seat to observe how evolving technologies can rapidly change how businesses must approach hiring, retaining and developing talent.
The question for talent and people leaders is not if, but when and how AI will impact their organizations. A key part of the solution is investing in your people through training, upskilling and apprenticeships. Organizations that take a strategic approach to integrating and working with evolving AI technologies now will be well-positioned to make the most of this fast-approaching revolution.
The Next Digital Transformation
AI’s impact will be felt across many industries and role types within organizations, including engineering, marketing, finance, legal, human resources and customer service. Similar to how the digital transformation of the past few decades necessitated that all types of businesses become tech-driven, over the next few years, every business is going to have to figure out how AI can integrate into what they do. This will necessitate working with and hiring employees who understand how AI functions and have the skills to help integrate it into a company’s strategy, processes and systems on a technical level. For talent managers, this will also mean reconsideration of your broader talent strategy when it comes to sourcing, hiring and development.
Peter Schwartz, a futurist who also serves as the senior vice president of strategic planning at Salesforce, wrote in 2018 about how AI will create jobs. He compared the AI revolution to the revolution brought on by ATMs in the 1960s, writing, “Of course, a teller of the 1960s couldn’t just step into one of today’s bank jobs—not without a lot of retraining. And that’s the challenge new technology brings. There’s no difficulty in finding an open job, but it’s hard to find people for the jobs that exist.”
Finding the Perfect Match Between Human Creativity and Machine Efficiency
While AI won’t necessarily replace jobs, it will provide opportunities for employees to develop and use a different set of skills on the job. Companies need to brainstorm and strategize about how to integrate AI into their work and think about what opportunities it opens up for new products and processes. AI is not just a computer doing a human's job, but a collaboration between humans and computing power that creates results that drive efficiency, innovation and business growth.
In commentary for McKinsey & Co., Michael Chui, Roger Roberts and Lareina Yee reminded readers that generative AI tools are not meant to work without human intervention, though they may imperceptibly approximate human interaction and labor as they grow more sophisticated. They wrote, “In many cases, [AI tools] are most powerful in combination with humans, augmenting their capabilities and enabling them to get work done faster and better.”
As you work AI into your business, you will also need to define who is responsible for building, implementing, managing and analyzing it. This may necessitate working with and training a group of employees with a very specific set of technical skills.
Provide Employees with the Next Generation of Skills—Now
As your company adapts to an AI-driven business world, you may find that you are looking for employees, especially entry-level and midlevel engineers, managers, and data analysts, with a highly in-demand skill set that does not yet fully exist. As such, to effectively and flexibly plan for the future, organizations can consider turning to a latent talent pool: Their current employees. Schwartz wrote, “Even as old tasks disappear, new ones will emerge. The jobs of the future will be built around those tasks. Companies will need to help their employees upgrade their proficiency and gain the necessary new skills.”
Your current employees already understand your products, company culture and processes. Adding on-the-job training, such as through an apprenticeship program, is an additive, cost-effective way to supercharge your talent pipeline and ensure your employees have the skills your organization needs to succeed in the future.
In this nascent moment, as use of AI becomes more widespread, organizations need to take a creative and strategic approach toward how to use it. Just as companies must be curious and adaptable in a new AI-driven landscape, so must employees. Organizations that invest in and engage employee curiosity and ambition will be well-equipped to succeed in the future.