Artificial Intelligence's scope of innovation, as tremendous as it has become in recent months, continues to raise questions around its impact on employee productivity. In conversations with finance leaders at recent events and discussions about where, when, and even how to approach the technology, it's clear that leaders' understanding of the basics falls within a wide range. This, combined with a lack of oversight from regulators, has made for a concoction of ideas around how this type of technology will impact business both now and later.
Amongst all the components of business that have the ability to be disrupted by AI, the impact on people is perhaps most significant. From morale to the creation of future roles to the work that makes up individual roles entirely, employees are aware of the trend the tech places the company on. As younger people may actively seek new technology in their roles, juggling implementation in a multigenerational work environment can put CFOs in a difficult spot when gauging the value of new technologies.
While modern work environments have reinvented the way employee productivity and engagement are evaluated, leaders now believe AI can help improve productivity as a whole. So much so, recent data from Insight, which surveyed one thousand business leaders with a position of director or higher, found that nearly three-quarters (72%) of business leaders believe AI implementation will improve productivity amongst their teams.
AI Impacts Remedial Tasks
In the short term, business leaders believe AI will impact remedial tasks. Outside of impacts on productivity, business leaders believe customer engagement and service duties (66%), research and development (53%), software development (53%), and marketing (44%) are all places that AI can have a significant impact within the next three years.
According to surveyors, finance can use AI to combat fraud, an area CFOs have greatly expanded both interest and allocations towards. Outside of cybersecurity and plug-ins for things like creating financial statements and analyzing financial reports, AI can also have the potential to revolutionize risk analysis in strategic decision-making surveyors said, an area in which strong skills are demanded in order to succeed as a contemporary CFO.
Quality, Security Risks
CFOs must be skeptical of the potential consequences of premature advancement of these types of products. Despite a desired oversight by leaders of AI, there is none at the moment.
More than half (51%) of those surveyed said they were concerned about the quality and control of AI within their organization, worrying about undesired content and misinformation within these tools impacting the results they generate. A nearly identical amount (49%) also said they were concerned about safety and security risks, fearing these types of technologies could leave their data vulnerable and their organizations at risk to hackers.
For experts outside of the surveyors, the sentiment is the same. In a recent webinar about AI’s impact on corporate finance hosted by Datarails, security was of concern among attendees. It is a combination of awareness and sentiment of caveat emptor.
“If you’re using [generative AI], there is no confidentiality,” said Sloane Kolt, head of Datarails Labs. “Do not put any sensitive information in there. ChatGPT will tell you that right from the beginning, and the reason for that is that everything you put into those prompts becomes a part of the AI’s training,” she said. “What you’re putting in there could end up showing up in someone else’s answer, and I am pretty sure we don’t want any of that.”
“You’re going to end up needing specialized tools for your own priority data,” Kolt said. “This is to make sure you are only sending non-specific information to these large language models that have been anonymized and grounded.”
AI a Supplement, Not a Replacement
Employees who are worried about AI taking their job should shift their worries to embracing the technology, data shows. Leadership tends to believe AI will not replace workers, but rather change the way the work is done. Employees who are aware of these types of technologies, even at a basic level, will have an advantage against those who resist or are ignorant about learning more about them.
Nearly 39% of business leaders told Insight they are worried less about the elimination of tasks, but rather about the potential for their worker's jobs becoming too easy if AI is incorporated on a wide scale. This group of people told surveyors they believe employees may become too reliant on AI to do their jobs, inhibiting their ability to participate in human innovation.
“[AI] is a tool. You’re going to be able to become a super producer, you’ll have access to a lot more than you had before. You still have to do it properly, but that is part of the skill of learning; don’t be afraid to hop in," Kolt said.