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  • Rod Morgan, Head of Faculty at RPM-Academy

The Transformative Power of Generative AI in Business

An image taken from a video generated by Sora generative AI - a woman walking down a busy downtown city street at night.
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In recent years, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into various business operations has been a game-changer, with generative AI emerging as a particularly transformative force. Generative AI, a branch of AI that enables machines to create content, has the potential to revolutionize numerous business functions, offering significant value across industries.

Introducing "Sora"

In an announcement last week, Open AI introduced “Sora”, described as, “Creating video from text… Sora is an AI model that can create realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions”. This news coupled with samples of Sora-created content is further evidence of how generative AI and related technologies will continue to rapidly reshape not only the future of work but the future of society in general.

A long time coming: In a discussion paper published by McKinsey & Company in 2018, generative AI was already projected to have a substantial impact on most business functions, with customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and research and development standing out as areas that could collectively account for approximately 75 percent of the total annual value from generative AI use. Interestingly, “creative” was not mentioned in that paper. Nevertheless, this underscores the far-reaching implications of generative AI for businesses of all kinds and included the caution that “widening gaps among countries, companies, and workers will need to be managed to maximize the benefits.

Harvard Business Review's November 14, 2022 article on “How Generative AI Is Changing Creative Work” spoke to both the fundamentals and the evolution of generative AI and the risk of “deepfakes” and other legal and ethical concerns for this technology. “…it should be clear that we are now only scratching the surface of what generative AI can do for organizations and the people within them… No doubt that the development of such capabilities would have dramatic and unforeseen implications for content ownership and intellectual property protection, but they are also likely to revolutionize knowledge and creative work”.

Generative AI and the Fear of Job Obsolescence

A person in an office with a cardboard box filled with their personal things suggestive that they have lost their job.

The emergence of generative AI has sparked significant discussions, fear, and anxiety about its potential impact on the future of work, particularly for but certainly not limited to knowledge workers and service-type jobs. As generative AI continues to rapidly advance, it is expected to bring about continual and substantial changes in the work landscape, redefining the roles and functions of knowledge workers and potentially rendering certain service-type jobs and clerical functions redundant. In terms of the velocity, the magnitude of change that we are experiencing now was typically measured in decades in the previous century are now measured in years, the speed of change increased by a factor of 10X or more.

Generative AI is expected to significantly alter the nature of knowledge work, some of which we are already witnessing and/or experiencing, including any professions that utilize information, data, or ideas as raw material for planning, analyzing, interpreting, developing, and creating products and services. Generative AI has already demonstrated the potential to automate various knowledge work activities, such as gathering, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting information, which could lead to the disruption of approximately two-thirds of North American occupations. This disruption is expected to affect industries such as law, journalism, software development, teaching, legal services, customer service, healthcare, and marketing. The better question would be, what industries and jobs will not be affected?

The impact of generative AI on knowledge work is not limited to automation; it is also projected to enhance productivity and enable knowledge workers to focus more on thoughtful engagement and decision-making by reducing the time spent on rote tasks. For instance, generative AI can be applied to interpret and understand existing content, summarize complex information into a coherent narrative, and automate tasks such as drafting documents and emails. This shift in the mix of work activities for knowledge workers is expected to create new opportunities for leveraging generative AI as a tool to increase productivity and job satisfaction.

Productivity: Focus on Where VALUE is Created

What are the moments of truth in your organization where value is truly being created?

A pie graph depicting three segments: Business-value added, non-value added, and value-added.

Example: In a multilateral development bank, operations/project officers and supporting resources are consumed in an activity best described as "monitoring and reporting" project implementation progress, an arduous task and one can certainly question the value in this activity. Does it "transform the deliverable" from a "Lean" (and Agile) perspective to meet the definition of value added? Or... is that activity non-value added but required (aka business value added, incidental work) in which case only the resulting proactive support and action taken as a result of monitoring is where true value is created?

Freeing up capacity to be invested in value creation: If generative AI technologies can reduce or eliminate the administrative tedium of monitoring and reporting and those same resources could be focused on proactive support for development projects, would that not yield greater investment in value-added activities and resulting improved project outcomes? A greater return on investment?

While the potential benefits of generative AI for knowledge work are evident, it is important to acknowledge that the technology can and will lead to the obsolescence of certain service-type jobs and clerical functions. As generative AI automates tasks traditionally performed by humans, there is a possibility that roles involving repetitive or routine activities could be phased out. However, it's essential to note that the impact of generative AI on specific job categories will vary based on factors such as educational requirements, wage levels, and the nature of the tasks involved.

Image of the "Thinking Man" statue,

The rise of generative AI is poised to reshape the landscape of knowledge work and service-type jobs, perhaps all work as we know it. While it presents opportunities for increased productivity and efficiency in knowledge-intensive industries, it also raises questions about the potential redundancy of certain roles.

The potential for generative AI to add trillions of dollars in value to the global economy is also a compelling factor to consider. As businesses increasingly recognize the transformative potential of generative AI, it is clear that this technology will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of various industries. Organizations as well as individuals must be prepared, resilient, and adaptable for the changes that lay ahead.

What's a Person to Do?

As "far back" as 2016, a Pew Research Center survey, "The State of American Jobs", found that 87% of workers believe it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.

At RPM-Academy, we are committed to providing our audience with cutting-edge insights into the world of artificial intelligence (AI). Our ever-expanding library of 896 online courses and 100 certificate programs includes a dedicated series on the topic of AI to help you stay ahead in this rapidly evolving field. Other topics include Lean, Six Sigma, Agile, leadership... a wide range of personal and professional development resources!

To explore our comprehensive range of AI courses and resources, we invite you to sign up for a free account on our platform. Empower yourself with the knowledge and expertise needed to harness the full potential of generative AI and lead your business into a future defined by innovation and opportunity as well as access resources to help you in your professional and personal development journey.


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