Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues its rapid evolution, signalling significant ramifications for the global workforce. IBM’s latest research indicates that the rise of AI, exemplified by developments like ChatGPT, won’t lead to AI replacing humans. Instead, the key takeaway is: employees who leverage AI are set to replace those who don’t.

IBM’s study, which analysed responses from 3,000 C-suite leaders across 28 countries and 21,000 workers from 22 nations, underscores the transformative impact of AI on traditional business models and the very essence of how work is executed. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has already indicated that between 2020 and 2025, new technologies, including AI, will disrupt 85 million jobs worldwide. However, these disruptions are expected to simultaneously give rise to 97 million new job roles.

A particularly stark projection from IBM’s research suggests that nearly 40% of the global workforce, or around 1.4 billion out of 3.4 billion individuals, will require reskilling in the next three years due to the surge in AI and automation. Yet, of the executives surveyed, a resounding 87% expect that job roles will be augmented, not replaced, by generative AI technologies.

One significant concern is the expanding global skills gap. The WEF estimates that 44% of workers’ skills will face disruption between 2023 and 2028, marking a nine percentage-point increase from their prior five-year projection. The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBM IBV) added that generative AI might elevate this number further, with 4 in 5 executives acknowledging that such AI technologies will redefine both employee roles and required skills. The research also highlights that the effects will not be uniform across all levels; lower-level roles are predicted to undergo the most significant changes.

But it’s not just about reskilling the workforce. IBM’s research finds that for companies to outperform their competitors and drive profitability, revenue growth, innovation, and employee retention, they need a change in perspective. The best-performing organisations are evolving their operational models to align with technological advancements, resulting in these firms outperforming their competition 44% more often. This suggests a broader need for a systemic rethink, rather than merely integrating new technologies into outdated structures. The focus should be on restructuring organisations fundamentally, ensuring they’re aptly equipped for the ‘age of the augmented workforce’.

To successfully navigate this evolving landscape, IBM outlines three primary recommendations for business leaders:

  1. Redefine and Revamp: Re-evaluate and transform traditional processes, job roles, and organisational structures to accentuate productivity. This also involves ensuring business and operating models mirror the evolving nature of work.
  2. Human-Machine Synergy: Prioritise the development of human-machine partnerships, capitalising on their potential to improve problem-solving, decision-making, value creation, and overall employee engagement.
  3. Strategic Technology Investment: Allocate resources to technologies that free up employee time, allowing them to dedicate efforts to more strategic, high-value tasks, subsequently driving business growth.

While AI’s trajectory may seem daunting to some, proactive engagement with its opportunities could provide long-term competitive advantages. Organisations must now decide whether they’ll take the necessary steps toward true transformation or risk obsolescence in a rapidly changing world.

Read more and download the report here.