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Most and Least Surprising: 3 Tech Leaders React to Insights in the AI in Business Trend Report 2023

Explore insights from tech leaders on generative AI in the workplace, based on our report findings.

Published on Jun 06, 2023

“I expected more fear that AI would fill future roles instead of people.” 

“Learning that VPs and directors feel the most threatened by generative AI tools shocked me.” 

“I can see there being a huge market opportunity for AI consultants who partner with people at organizations on how to use AI properly and ethically, and how to check it.”

We recently released our 2023 AI in Business Trend Report — a survey of 500 tech professionals and their thoughts around generative AI in the workplace. Then, we asked three experienced tech leaders, who use generative AI tools to degrees ranging from multiple times daily to not at all, to lend their perspectives on the details we uncovered. The quotes above are just a few of the many great insights they offered in response to the report. 

Keep reading to meet this roster of talented tech leaders and see what else they had to say about how their peers use and view generative AI at work. 

And be sure to download your copy of the asset and head to our official The Prompt LinkedIn page to contribute to the conversation as well!

What is your title and primary responsibilities?

Kelly O'Halloran: I’m the Senior Manager of Content Strategy at QuotaPath. I lead the development and execution of QuotaPath's content marketing efforts to attract and engage customers at every step of the sales and customer funnel.

Shelby Bolinger: As Director of Marketing Programs at Built In, I lead the strategy and execution of our marketing campaigns and programs to drive brand awareness and engagement with our key buyer personas. 

Jerlyn O'Donnell: I’m the Director of Experience Design at FCB Health. I manage a team of product design and user experience architects help bring products to life in the digital space. 

How often do you use generative AI tools?

O'Halloran: I get made fun of at work because I am the sole Bard user and other people use ChatGPT and Dall-E. I use Bard multiple times every day of the workweek. But I'm not an expert user, more of a novice.

Bolinger: I have very little experience in using AI tools personally. I’m still in the stage of reading about the technology and learning from early adopters on how they’ve integrated the tool in our daily workflows.

O'Donnell: I have used generative AI tools frequently in my daily life, particularly text-to-image tools, since August 2022. I rely heavily on ChatGPT for various tasks, like generating writing prompts and answering complex questions. I’ve also used it as my tour guide when I travel. 

What surprised you the most about this report?

O'Halloran: I'm pretty surprised by the low adoption rates for companies between 1-10 people as well as those for over 1,000 employees. I would have thought that the small businesses are most likely to benefit from this technology, given how many hats people have to wear when growing their business. And, that enterprise employees would have the most time to explore use cases for this. Is there an industry correlation here, maybe? Or maybe they aren't being marketed to as much? 

Also, “concerns about quality” was the second biggest obstacle to incorporating AI for non-users but I’m surprised that it didn't surpass “budget” (which was number one). But maybe that's because I use it so much. With “What aspects of AI quality are you most concerned with?”, “factual inaccuracy” and “generic outputs” were numbers one and two and I felt spiritually because those are what I'm focused on when I’m typing prompts and revising outputs.

Bolinger: I was most surprised to see how high the adoption rate of AI generative tools was across employees at all levels of a job function and how often it was being used in a given week by these professionals. While AI has been talked about for years, it’s only been within the last year or so that these tools have become readily available for everyday use cases. The rate at which these tools have been adopted and added to a peoples’ toolkit was not something I expected to happen so quickly. 

O'Donnell: Learning that VPs and directors feel the most threatened by generative AI tools shocked me. I assumed high-level executives would be more likely to embrace the tools, given their focus on efficiency and innovation. They’ve completely changed how I work and make me more efficient and productive.

What surprised you the least

O'Halloran: The 201-500 employee rate having the highest adoption is interesting yet not surprising. That's a sweet spot for scaling either in headcount, industry or products. These companies typically have leaders and individuals consistently on the prowl for tools to do more, and do it more efficiently. 

What also did not surprise me was that c-suite executives were the most confident that technology could not replace them. 

Bolinger: I wasn’t surprised to read that professionals working at smaller companies tended to adopt AI at a higher rate. Organizations with limited resources always find ways to be scrappy and make the most of what they have. AI is a great fit for teams like this who could always use an extra hand in getting more work done more quickly. 

O'Donnell: Of course, the cost of generative AI tools is a significant obstacle to their adoption in the workplace. I'm someone who is currently paying for a couple of these tools out of my pocket, so I know firsthand how expensive they can be. But the investment is worth it. 

However, I understand that only some can invest in these tools independently. It can be challenging to make a case for their usage when you're not in a department that requires the kind of efficiency and optimization it can provide, like me. This is where I hope companies invest in these tools for their employees.

So, while the budget obstacle may not be surprising, it's still disheartening to see so many companies miss out on the potential benefits of generative AI due to short-term thinking. It's frustrating that they could be reaping the benefits of increased productivity and profitability. This short-sightedness will only hurt them in the long run as they fall behind competitors embracing these tools.

What did you find most intriguing?

O'Halloran: Creativity was the skill that users ranked highest when it came to using generative AI efficiently and I think that's so interesting. I'm under the impression that everyone's reaction to AI has been that it's anti-creative and that creatives excel because they're not using tools like this. So it’s interesting to hear that creativity is actually the key skill.

Also that 68.4% disagree with the notion that AI will take their jobs away, which seems high but then that still means that about a third do think it will take their jobs. I still haven't seen people being laid off because AI replaced their jobs. People are getting laid off for a myriad of other reasons. And it sucks but I don't think it’s because AI tools are writing blog content now. I don't think you can eliminate a blog writer and replace it with a tool like this. It allows them to have more output; it doesn't replace them.

Bolinger: Yes, it was intriguing that almost 70% weren’t concerned about AI taking over their jobs. Given the rate in which technology companies have cut resources recently, mostly in the form of employee headcount, I expected more fear that AI would fill future roles instead of people.

O'Donnell: I was surprised that freelancers and solopreneurs weren't leading the charge in adopting generative AI tools. I thought they would be the first to embrace this technology. However, after thinking about it, it makes sense. In my opinion, these individuals might have different exposure to these tools, and a higher learning curve, compared to people at actual companies who are already experimenting and sharing best practices with each other.

[Image made with Jasper Art]

What insights do you think will see the biggest change by this time next year? 

O'Halloran: This is a bit abstract but I can see there being a huge market opportunity for AI consultants who partner with people at organizations on how to use AI properly and ethically, and how to check it. In the same way that revenue operations (RevOps) is a newer position within tech, I feel like an AI implementation consultant is going to be the next big thing because there is a rapid increase in adoption.

It seems that the eagerness is there based on this report. Now, companies just need people to come in and teach them how to use AI. So I think as budgets increase for this, adoption will increase. 

Bolinger: I think we’ll see the biggest change in budget allocation for AI tools. As adoption rates will likely increase as well as trust in the tool, organizations will realize there can be a lot of ROI for this investment.  

O'Donnell: More people will definitely adopt the tech if the generative apps aren’t massively regulated. Companies are competitive. There’s no way they’ll hold out if their competitors are fully embracing the technology. I think there will be growth across demographics in the workplace as time passes. Those who resist using generative AI tools in their work are doing themselves a disservice and they may ultimately need to catch up in the rapidly evolving workplace.

How do you see the role of human workers changing as generative AI becomes more prevalent in the workplace?

Bolinger: I see this being an evolution of sorts. I predict some companies will invest heavily in AI and not as much in people resources. Then we’ll see the pendulum swing the other way, eventually finding the ultimate balance in how humans and AI work together to build a more effective workplace. 

O'Donnell: This question is super loaded, and it’s a good thing I asked ChatGPT it when I first used it. The generative AI thought, “AI tools will handle the more repetitive and time-consuming tasks and human workers will take on more complex and creative work.” I fully agree. We should have skills that complement AI tools like problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. We’ll likely evolve and effectively incorporate these tools into their daily workflow, which we actually do now but don’t realize with existing tools.

In your opinion, what are the most exciting possibilities for the future of generative AI?

O'Halloran: Recently, one of my co-workers needed my advice on social media posting. She actually used AI to help put a few posts together in her voice. Then she and I came together and made a few touching posts based on a panel experience she recently had. 

The one-off use cases like that are profoundly impactful — where AI is helping people be better versions of themselves. I think that's the biggest benefit. These tools enable someone to be better at a skill that maybe they've lacked previously, and the more they use it, the better they can get with it until maybe they won't even need it anymore. I also think about non-English speaking citizens who apply for jobs but they don't even get in the door because they can't write a good cover letter. Now they have tools that can help them easily create a basic cover letter so they can at least get an interview.

O'Donnell: There's so much opportunity for AI to disrupt industries. However, what it can do for healthcare is important, since that affects everyone. Imagine being able to identify potential health risks and get personalized treatment plans.

Want to check out the full report for even more insights? Download The AI in Business Trend Report below.

Meet The Author:

Alton Zenon III

Alton Zenon III

Jasper Content Marketing Manager
All Things AI
Marketing Strategy

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