GenAI workplace trends

John Denslinger is a former executive VP Murata, president SyChip Wireless, and president/CEO ECIA, the industry’s trade association. His career spans 40 years in electronics

In this article, John Denslinger acknowledges that GenAI is still at trial phase, but the trend is clear—every organization, every employee can elevate performance.

‘Knowledge is power’—Sir Francis Bacon, Philosopher and Statesman (1597). Quite certain, Sir Francis never foresaw the degree of human achievement made possible with GenAI. With a few keystroke prompts, GenAI has given ordinary people easy access to massive data accumulations. Maybe the quote should be updated to say: ‘Knowledge is power, GenAI powers knowledge’.

OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, was groundbreaking. It influenced untold investments in a wide range of AI developments transforming approaches to business, human socialization, healthcare, education, entertainment and the entire economic community. GenAI seduces organizations with prospects of greater efficiency and productivity while still preserving core values and mission-stated goals.

PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey reported a tremendous enthusiasm towards the deployment of GenAI as a necessary part of every company’s strategic plan. Most CEOs gravitate to GenAI initially because it boosts top line performance via new revenue and technology streams. A close second is an expectation of greater operational efficiency. Either is an easy ROI justification, but the real competitive gain is making employees GenAI knowledgeable and ultimately more valuable. It won’t take long before these workers out-perform and out-compete those without.

Understandably, many employees harbor strong fears of being displaced by AI. In fact, IMF reports the current GenAI could replace as much as 40 per cent of the human workforce hitting the most advanced economies disproportionately. Goldman Sachs Group puts the AI exposure at 300M full-time jobs. So, the fear is real. Effective countermeasures are needed. Companies embarking on the AI journey must be transparent. It’s imperative to foster employee trust and engagement from the very start. On the other hand, employees need to deconstruct their assigned job responsibilities and make the human skill set indispensable. At the same time, learn new AI skills. Proficiency at both is key.

Where to begin? Companies may wish to focus initially on making GenAI an optimizing tool for their professional employees. The opportunity to increase job satisfaction, offer better service with improved quality in less time is a win-win. Let’s consider procurement as an example. GenAI can streamline negotiations, sourcing, contract management, administrative matters, analytics, supplier management and sustainability. Similar streamlining is possible for sales, marketing, engineering, production, logistics, quality assurance and HR. Each is another win-win.

While AI offers enormous advantages, there are downsides worth noting. First, workers may get inaccurate information or false outputs. Experts have referred to these anomalies as ‘hallucinations’. This apparent shortcoming poses some risk. Human review for accuracy cannot be taken for granted: it’s a critical process step. The second issue seems trivial, but then again, not everyone has an analytical background. Does the AI output make sense? Be sure to understand what it all means before use. Finally, there is a human toll if not managed well. If AI is simply perceived as doing more with less, imbalances in responsibility and workloads may lead to early burnout.

For the most part, GenAI is still at the trial and test phase, but the trend is clear. Every organization, every employee can elevate performance and competitiveness. GenAI powers knowledge and that’s the workplace gamechanger.