How Generative AI is shaping the next generation of work | HCLTech

How Generative AI is shaping the next generation of work

Technologies like Generative AI are set to reshape the nature of human labor
7 minutes read
Bennett Voyles
Bennett Voyles
Contributing Writer
7 minutes read
How Generative AI is shaping the next generation of work

When it comes to thinking about how artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced technologies will affect the evolution of work, the discussion tends to divide into two camps: the people who think work will stay the same and the people who believe the robots will take it all away from us.

But in a wide-ranging Tweetchat hosted by HCLTech on July 28, four business technology experts see a third path ahead: a world where AI and other technologies have taken over the tedious tasks, freeing human beings to do higher-value work.

As they shared their predictions about the future of work in a virtual panel discussion on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, now X, speakers focused on five themes: how to leverage generative AI in designing the next generation of jobs; how technology initiatives can help enterprises sustainability goals, workplace transformations include frontline workers, how the metaverse will change work and how companies can use technology to understand their employees better.

Generative AI and the future of work

Panelists were generally positive about what generative AI will mean for the future of work. “As generative AI can automate repetitive tasks, enhance creativity and optimize decision-making processes, organizations can create more efficient workflows, foster innovation and free up employees to focus on high-value strategic initiatives,” said Jane Frankland, owner and CEO of KnewStart, a startup consultancy.

Sanjay Katkar, co-founder, joint MD & CTO of Quick Heal Technologies, a multinational cybersecurity company, agreed. “Enterprises can leverage generative AI to automate repetitive tasks, train employees and improve customer experience with personalized responses,” he said.

However, Rakshit Ghura, VP & Global Head of Digital Workplace Services for HCLTech, urged caution. Ghura advised companies to “embrace a cautious and realistic view of AI adoption.”

“Any systems incorporated must be trained to understand the business context of their activities, ensure data security, employee privacy and adherence to regulatory compliance,” he added.

How IT will save the planet

Panelists saw a wide range of opportunities for technology companies to drive sustainability initiatives.

“Organizations can utilize technology to engage employees in sustainability initiatives,” said Jennifer Strirrup, founder and CEO of Data Relish and a global technology thought leader. For example, she said, gamification and mobile apps could encourage employees to adopt eco-friendly behaviors for remote, hybrid, and office workers.

Frankland also posted a memo outlining eight ways technology could help accelerate sustainability goals, including implementing smart energy management systems, adopting paperless processes, encouraging remote collaboration and employing technology-driven supply chain management systems that can track and monitor the environmental impact of products and services.

Katkar noted that implementing more efficient systems can also be valuable. He said that by using cloud-native architecture, AI and data-driven optimization, companies can reduce some CO2 emissions by five to 10%.

Ghura saw a lot of possibilities for achieving ESG goals with technology as well, particularly in using AI, machine learning, the internet of things (IoT) and data analytics to help monitor, track, benchmark and optimize the carbon footprint of workplaces. He advised a three-pronged strategy for greener IT. First, developing hybrid collaboration and virtualization platforms. Second, promoting circular computing by using devices that have refurbished or remanufactured parts. Third, by building smart spaces that focus on becoming familiar with hybrid collaboration and virtualization by taking advantage of circular computing opportunities by using devices with refurbished or manufactured parts, building smart eco-spaces monitored with Internet of Things sensors.

However, Ghura said green IT is not just about the tech; it’s just as important to teach green skills to employees and drive progressive behavior.

Making the frontline part of your transformation

In terms of integrating frontline employees with the digital transformation, panelists agreed that more needed to be done. “Workplace transformation approaches have been non-inclusive of the frontline workforce,” said Ghura. “More needs to be done to use those new digital tools to enhance frontliners’ efficiency and productivity,” he added.

“A digital transformation journey needs to be inclusive,” said Katkar. To be effective, the officer driving the journey forward needs to engage directly with frontline employees. 

But how?

“Organizations can do many things to ensure workplace transformation initiatives are inclusive toward the frontline workforce,” said Frankland, who outlined seven different measures that could be taken, including providing frontline workers with training programs in digital skills, encouraging their collaboration in designing new systems and spending time communicating the benefits and purpose of the transformation.

Work from the metaverse

Another tool that may help is the metaverse, particularly for employee training and development. “Companies will develop virtual simulations, immersive learning environments and interactive training modules to enhance employee skills, knowledge and experiences,” Frankla[nd wrote.

Katkar and Ghura also saw opportunities to enhance employee engagement and training. “[AI] has a lot of scope for employee onboarding, training, immersive meeting experience and collaboration and employee experience management from diversity and inclusivity perspectives,” Ghura said.

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Getting to know you

Technological advances are making it possible to get to know employees much better than ever before. Modern management platforms can help managers perceive employee priorities and benchmark their device and app performance, according to Ghura. Town halls, virtual forums, email/SMS-based surveys and smart feedback bots can all be used to understand even more.

“Invest in employee engagement platforms that help employees share feedback, access resources and participate in surveys and discussions,” suggested Katkar.

Frankland emphasized that it’s important for management to make the effort. “In the modern digital economy, capturing the voice of employees is crucial for enterprise success and failing to do so jeopardizes an organization unnecessarily,” she said.

If Frankland, Ghura and Katkar are right, it suggests that more pessimistic futurists may have the impact of technology on the workplace exactly backward: rather than making companies less human, advances in technology may make companies more human, by enabling managers and workers to see each other more clearly than ever before. 

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