While artificial intelligence will change the way we work, the exact impact is still an unknown.
By Bobby Lewis
A year after its 2022 survey showed artificial intelligence adoption had doubled over the previous five years, McKinsey's The State of AI in 2023 reports that generative AI tools aren't going anywhere any time soon. One-third of those surveyed—per the report, participants represent "the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties, and tenures"—said their organizations regularly use generative AI in at least one business function.
In addition, 40 percent of the 1,684 survey participants said their companies will increase AI investment due to recent advances in the technology such as ChatGPT; AI text-to-image generator DALL-E 3; and AlphaFold, which uses a deep neural network to predict proteins' 3D structures.
Survey respondents also predicted changes in their respective fields, anticipating job cuts and reskilling efforts to respond to a shifting work landscape. Thirty-eight percent of respondents expect their companies to reskill one-fifth of their workforce in the next three years. Further illustrating AI's effect on workers, nearly one out of 10 of those surveyed expect 20 percent cuts to their workforce due to AI adoption—despite that the concern is not yet more than a theory.
Adopting generative AI tools doesn't necessarily mean automating entire jobs. McKinsey reports that generative AI has the potential to automate work activities that take up 60 percent to 70 percent of an employee's time. Respondents largely expect service operations to be the only function directly influenced by generative AI during the next three years.
Regarding the current (rather than future) state of operations, 79 percent of employees said they have had some exposure to generative AI, and 22 percent said they regularly use generative AI tools at work. Respondents expect those tools will only become more prevalent in the coming years.
However, McKinsey's report points out that while AI will likely disrupt industries, its impact level will vary. The company's June 2023 research, The Economic Potential of Generative AI, backs up that claim. The report shows that the majority of generative AI's value falls across just four areas: customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and product research and development.
"We are in the early innings of generative AI, and companies already anticipate a meaningful impact on talent—from opening up new work opportunities and transforming how work gets done to introducing whole new job categories such as prompt engineering," says McKinsey senior partner Lareina Yee. "One of the benefits of generative AI is that it can help nearly everyone with their jobs, and this is also its greatest challenge."