Looking for AI Stability, Companies Are Shifting Tactics

With “red flags” flying high, businesses are adjusting on the fly.

Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, companies strive to take a “not too hot and not too cold” approach to employment in AI. A new study reports that the results are mixed at best.

In the company’s latest Technology Pulse survey, which tracks artificial intelligence and the future of work, Ernst & Young LLP finds that approximately half of companies already using AI “anticipate” a mix of layoffs and hiring over the next six months as a direct result of AI adoption.

EY already senses a problem with that approach, as artificial intelligence tools and applications are growing so fast that trying to mix and match employment policies right now is problematic. “Even with hiring plans in place, three out of five technology leaders (61%) say that emerging technology has made it more challenging for their company to source top technology talent,” the report stated.

Ironically, companies that have deployed AI say they’re getting robust results in key usage areas like coding and software development (where 51% of companies say productivity has improved), data analysis (51%), and internal and external communication (47%), those same companies can’t get a grip on the “hiring and firing” side of the AI equation.

“One thing is certain: Companies are reshaping their workforce to be more AI savvy,” said Vamsi Duvvuri, EY technology and media communications leader. “With this transition, we can anticipate a continuous cycle of strategic workforce realignment, characterized by simultaneous layoffs and hiring, and not necessarily in equal volumes.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom, Duvvuri said. “Employees and companies alike continue to show enthusiasm around AI, specifically regarding opportunities to scale and compete more effectively in the marketplace.”

More Study Takeaways

As companies look to adjust to AI-influenced employment strategies on the fly, many of them are seeing ongoing (and potentially risky) issues related to major AI deployments bubbling up in mid-2024.

Here’s a capsule look at the EY report.

Major “red flags”. About one-third of the 250 company executives surveyed by EY report regulatory concerns stemming from their artificial intelligence rollouts.

“Technology business leaders say that upskilling employees (33%), copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property (IP) (33%), and a lack of transparency around decision-making (37%) are at the top of the list,” EY noted. “Further, nearly half of technology business leaders agree that more AI regulation is needed, specifically when it comes to minimizing AI-generated bias (48%), protecting user privacy (48%), and safeguarding IP (47%).”

Forging ahead. Even as risk factors arise inside companies that have invested heavily in AI, senior executives at those firms say it’s full-speed ahead with additional AI investments.

“Though many leaders still report concerns about AI, 82% of tech business leaders plan to increase their AI investment in the next year,” the study stated. “From a hiring standpoint, tech leaders are focused on investing in specific roles, such as cybersecurity analysts (69%), data scientists (68%), and AI engineers (68%).

A big learning curve equates to big employee training campaigns. C-suite executives also acknowledge “rapid changes” in AI tools (especially with generative AI technologies). The short answer to keeping up with those changes is major investments in staff AI education and training.

“Nearly two-thirds of technology business leaders say their company has put internal development programs in place to help employees keep pace with rapidly changing generative AI (GenAI),” EY noted. “Additionally, three out of four technology business leaders say they have implemented internal technical certifications to help employees keep pace with GenAI.”

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