Many people think of generative AI as a tool that allows them to use their own words to ask questions or generate copy and images—both of which it does remarkably well. However, it also has incredible potential to transform our personal and professional work—helping us access, consume, and utilize the untapped information that floods our inboxes and languishes in archives.
Adobe recently conducted research on digital workers’ perceptions of AI technologies, as well as their value in the workplace. We surveyed 6,049 digital workers across five countries—the U.S., UK, Australia, India, and Japan—including both rank-and-file employees and senior leaders who are using digital technologies (including digital documents) in their workplaces. The findings reveal their perceptions and aspirations around how AI can change the way we work. Following are the top three insights from the research:
#1: AI is empowering the digital workforce
For companies embracing the technology, employees view AI as a constructive force. An overwhelming majority of respondents (92%) say AI is having a positive impact on their work and more than one-quarter (26%) call AI a “miracle.” Two-thirds say AI is already saving them time, and 61% say it helps them work faster.
Nearly half of the workers we surveyed (45%) say AI reduces or eliminates boring or tedious tasks, while 41% say AI has changed how they work for the better. More than one-third of respondents (36%) who use AI at work say the technology enables them to do things they could never do in the past.
#2: Generative AI is viewed as a productivity multiplier
Generative AI has special potential to become a force multiplier by putting the power of AI at employees’ fingertips. Ninety percent of employees believe generative AI will help them work faster; integrate information from different sources in less time; and reduce time spent on difficult, boring, or tedious work. Nearly as many say generative AI will help them do more work (89%) and create better quality work (88%)—and 9 out of 10 business leaders surveyed say the same.
#3: Business leaders view adoption and use of generative AI as inevitable
Nearly four out of five (79%) business leaders expect their employees will use generative AI often in their work, with 39% anticipating employees will use generative AI every day.
Most global business leaders (76%) say their companies are ready to adopt generative AI in their workflows. Of the roughly 25% of leaders who say they're not prepared to adopt the new technology, nearly one-third (35%) say they either don’t have the right security, privacy, and trust guardrails in place, or they don’t understand how to use or deploy the technology effectively (34%).
Enhancing human potential and productivity
As generative AI becomes more common, we’re hearing renewed concerns that AI will replace human workers. While there’s no doubt that generative AI is already significantly changing how we work, when applied thoughtfully it does not replace humans, but rather amplifies both employee productivity and engagement.
While the shift from analog to digital has made information more available and accessible than ever, it has also brought a crush of information that is too much for most of us to absorb, let alone use. For companies, the challenge is multiplied across massive stores of archived documents from which they get little to no value. At one pharmaceutical company, which stores thousands of PDF documents containing critical research and other information, a leader commented that “it’s highly likely the cure for cancer is in that data, but we don’t have an efficient way to find it.” Generative AI will finally empower every employee and every company to put the intelligence in their documents to work.
Personalizing work experiences
One of the most exciting applications of generative AI in the workplace will be enabling more personalized work experiences. Today, virtually every solution delivers one-size-fits-all responses based on text prompts. Going forward, a generative AI agent will have a history of working with each individual employee—and will continually be trained by each one from a preferred pool of information. These agents will act as powerful personal assistants and become better at meeting employees’ needs, both in speed and in results that are truly tailored to their needs and work.
An exciting (and responsible) future
For all business and technology leaders, there are important technical, ethical, and operational issues we must consider as we bring generative AI into the workplace. And while those issues may feel daunting, finding a responsible and proactive path forward is both our opportunity and responsibility. Start small, using generative AI on projects that solve real challenges. Partner with trusted vendors who are proven and invested in your success. And, most importantly, resist focusing on cost cutting alone and instead prioritize projects that empower your workforce. It is my deep belief that amplifying human potential is the most exciting and profound application for generative AI—and every technology.
This content was produced by Adobe. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.
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