Artificial intelligence, AI, is a hot topic. As leaders, now is the time to start thinking about how AI will change how work will be done and how we must prepare our staff for the jobs they will be doing in the future. AI will change the way work is done and the way we do our work.
For many, AI is a curiosity with no personal impact or relevance. Whether they should or not, students are using ChatGPT to write term papers. I spoke at a professional association meeting recently. After the program, the organizer told me that he wrote the program description and then ran it through ChatGPT. The AI program wrote a better program description and was the one published. AI is or will make your company’s customer interface more customized to the customer’s needs. See my earlier blog: AI – Key to Personalizing Your Customer's Experience.
I am reminded of business school case studies profiling the barriers IBM faced when marketing the first computers to take over routine office accounting and data management. The computer would eliminate the cost of manually recording and tracking mountains of data. But the computer also eliminated the jobs and departments doing the work. Agreeing to buy an IBM computer would fundamentally change how the work was done. Firing the staff was a difficult leadership decision – and a barrier to the sale.
Today, reading breast mammograms looking for cancer is done more accurately and reliably by AI analyzing digital images than by a human radiologist. The job of radiologists must change going forward. Hollywood writers went on strike, in part, for protection against AI. The job description and job requirements for many categories of professional “writers” will change because of AI technology.
I recently spoke with Greg Hayes, CEO of RTX Corp., owner of Raytheon the defense contractor. Hayes believes that AI will change the way work is done in his company and most organizations. Preparing his staff for how their work will be done in the future and for the skills required to do their job is one of the most important challenges he faces.
AI is not a box sitting on your desk that you will buy now or later. AI analyses large data sets and quickly finds patterns and connections that cannot be done in real-time by humans. Cyber security, medical research, risk analysis, scenario planning, complex decision making, healthcare delivery, insurance, system performance, and customer management are obvious areas where AI will strengthen our capabilities and change how we do this work.
The power that artificial intelligence brings to existing and new tools will have an impact equivalent to the introduction of computers to business and technology. We are only beginning to know, to imagine, how AI will be used and will change how we work. Ask how the product or service you are selling can be done faster, better, or cheaper using AI. Then ask how AI will change how work is done in your organization and what your team must do to prepare to do that new kind of work.
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Gloucester Massachusetts has a late summer Schooner Festival celebrating the sailing ships that were our trucks and railroads for thousands of years. From New England ports, they also fished the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia for cod. This ship, the Columbia, is a replica of a Gloucester fishing schooner and a thrilling reminder of the sailing ships that were central to our lives only a short time ago.