Generative AI Will Redefine Crucial Work Skills, but It Can’t Replace Human Expertise

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Generative artificial intelligence, capable of assimilating extensive content catalogs to identify associations and promptly provide natural language responses to questions, has demonstrated significant advantages for knowledge workers and companies across myriad industries.

Similar to how computers and the internet revolutionized efficiency in documentation, information replication, communication, and data collection, generative AI has the potential to enhance productivity and expedite decision making by harnessing unparalleled analytical capabilities. With the progression of technology and the emergence of new possibilities, it's inevitable that certain tasks will be automated. However, this doesn't signify the replacement of humans. Instead, their roles will be elevated, with generative AI already highlighting the significance of particular hard and soft skills unique to the human workforce.

The Value of GenAI Is Enhanced by Human Experience

In broad terms, generative AI assists workers in uncovering answers and drawing conclusions that would be highly challenging if the process depended solely on individual workers researching, reading, comprehending, and identifying connections among numerous data sources. The technology is amplifying the capabilities of knowledge workers by swiftly navigating through existing content and data, fostering creativity through unique perspectives and connections derived from in-depth data analysis. It also contributes to a more immersive user experience through personalized approaches.

The most significant impact generative AI has made on insights work, my company’s field, is transforming the search experience into a conversational task. Now, workers can pose questions and receive comprehensive, full-sentence answers that integrate data and insights from various sources. With the capabilities of natural language AI, the need for workers to guess specific search terms for relevant documents or sift through extensive reports is eliminated. Instead, they can simply ask focused questions, like “What are the trends in packaging for yogurt,” and receive concise answers drawn from multiple verifiable sources.

Although highly advantageous for work productivity, certain scenarios with generative AI may lack clear data or involve ethical and emotional nuances. Human soft skills such as empathy and emotional intelligence become crucial for navigating these challenges, comprehending the feelings and motivations of others, and making ethical choices. Since AI cannot autonomously make ethical decisions, the responsibility lies with humans to program, supervise, and guarantee the ethical use of AI.

Today, generative AI offers thorough data and clear insights to support decision making, yet it falls short in interpreting the wider business landscape or market dynamics. It also lacks the ability to contemplate or assemble long-term strategic plans. Therefore, planning will continue to be a human undertaking, dependent on experience, intuition, and an understanding of internal and external pressures and opportunities.

As long as AI retains susceptibility to the well-known hallucinations linked with certain tools, human hard skills like category expertise, prompt writing, and fact-checking will remain integral to workflows. Verifying and validating information is now more crucial than ever, underscoring the significance of this skill in sustaining credibility and reliability amid the acceleration of automated content creation.

Employees capable of rapidly formulating impactful prompts are indispensable for securing pertinent and coherent responses, as slight variations in prompts can yield significantly different results. The prevalent generative AI systems often lack profound category-specific knowledge essential for deciphering industry jargon, potentially leading to errors or omissions of crucial context. This underscores the necessity for human experts with a thorough understanding of a specific field to guide the AI and interpret search results, ensuring a consistent delivery of contextually relevant decisions.

Collaborative Work Between Humans and AI in the Workplace Moving Forward

Outside of insights, the integration of generative AI search is poised to penetrate every facet of business in the coming years. Just as technological progress rendered the notion of a purely internet or mobile company obsolete, it is safe to anticipate a similar trajectory for generative AI. Rather than being exclusive to AI-centric companies, the technology is envisioned to operate like electricity, empowering various applications, optimizing workflows, and accelerating tasks. Often called a “first draft machine,” it excels at swiftly summarizing notes, bullet points, memos, and other documents into easily editable and digestible formats, allowing humans to refine and perfect the content, eliminating steps and accelerating workflow.

Despite its considerable power and speed, generative AI is not replacing the role of workers; it is merely altering it. Data is imperfect, and the technology cannot delve into the “why” behind an answer to discern the optimal course of action. Constraints related to data quality and quantity often require creativity from the worker formulating AI prompts. After results are provided, the worker’s experience and understanding of considerations become crucial in determining how to effectively utilize the insights.

The anticipated business landscape promises an exciting array of new tools and technologies, as AI extends its reach into diverse areas and industries, enhancing decision making and overall outcomes. Through strategic deployment, these tools will eradicate routine tasks, enabling workers to channel their efforts into creativity and ideation, fostering innovation and growth.

Thor Olof Philogène is the CEO and founder of Stravito, an AI-powered enterprise insights platform that allows employees at Fortune 2000 organizations to store, discover, share, and integrate consumer insights, in seconds. Its customers include brands such as McDonalds, Comcast, Electrolux, and Danone. Prior to Stravito, Philogène was chief revenue officer and VP of growth at fintech company iZettle (now Zettle by Paypal following a $2.2 billion acquisition in 2018).

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