How AI Will Impact Human Capital in the Technology, Media and Communications Industry

How AI Will Impact Human Capital in the Technology, Media and Communications Industry
August 17, 2023 15 mins

How AI Will Impact Human Capital in the Technology, Media and Communications Industry

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Artificial intelligence is driving rapid change globally. In technology, media and telecoms, AI can be a human capital opportunity, not just a risk.

Key Takeaways
  1. The rapid development of AI can be both an advantage and challenge but the impact affects industries differently.
  2. With the amount of investment directed towards AI, it will most likely become a key operational pillar of competitive TMC businesses going forward. The key differentiator will be how firms aggregate the impact of their human capital with the use of AI.
  3. While there are fears of jobs either being lost or changed radically, there’s no guarantee automation will cause widespread job displacement.

Companies in the technology, media and communications (TMC) industry continue to seek ways to differentiate their value to consumers. As they make technological breakthroughs — in some cases, spawning entire new industries such as artificial intelligence (AI) — their innovations create disruption within the wider industry.

The past few months have seen huge advances in the use of AI in the business environment. As Muir Macpherson, partner, global human capital analytics at Aon commented in a recent article, “There’s shock and amazement that these tools have progressed as quickly as they have. Developments just over the past six or nine months have caught everyone by surprise, and those surprises haven’t slowed down.”

And while this has come with many benefits and use cases, it’s becoming evident that AI will also have a long-term impact on the workforce. Gartner  estimates that by 2026, conversational AI deployments within contact centers, for instance, will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion. This is a substantial number, and that kind of impact can only be achieved if businesses take full advantage of everything AI has to offer. Understanding the opportunity is one thing — seizing it is another since TMC companies operate in highly complex environments. Driving and enacting change to this extent therefore is a journey more often than not. That’s why it matters to get it right and to understand the applications, risks and challenges.  

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There’s shock and amazement that AI tools have progressed as quickly as they have. Developments just over the past six or nine months have caught everyone by surprise, and those surprises haven’t slowed down.

Muir Macpherson
Partner, Global Human Capital Analytics at Aon

Automating jobs is the clearest application of AI and some key TMC players have already indicated that this is an area they are actively pursuing. Among the benefits of this approach are potential reductions in staffing costs and the possibility of freeing up the current workforce to direct their energy to more intangible and creative endeavors. 

Where AI replaces human skills, it often causes challenges. A scenario where the market experiences heavy job cuts is problematic for a number of reasons. Economies only work when there is a constant redistribution of capital, enabling the general population to work, sustain and enrich themselves. 

This was partly highlighted during COVID-19, where smaller businesses requiring physical presence suffered the most. It can be immensely appealing to use technology such as AI to drive efficiency, but businesses should be fully aware of the potential downsides in terms of the negative systemic impact that may result throughout the economy.

Artificial Intelligence: A Double-Edged Sword

In the TMC sector, AI is a double-edged sword. TMC businesses, like those in any other industry, are at risk of certain roles becoming obsolete, and are as threatened by disruptors as any other sector. Disruptive technologies and challenges with attracting talent were both top 10 risks for the industry in Aon’s most recent Global Risk Management Survey.

At the same time, AI has the potential to improve operations and efficiency in the TMC industry, with applications ranging from network management and operations to customer service. Add to this the fact that some technology, media and communications firms are at the forefront of AI development, and artificial intelligence is clearly a significant human capital opportunity as well as a risk.

If regulators across the globe start to get involved in AI they will possibly include some regulation on employment and jobs. This is a step that some people inferred from OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman speaking in front of the U.S. Congress in May 2023. The ChatGPT company CEO “urged lawmakers to regulate artificial intelligence” in a Senate panel hearing, stressing the need for safeguards around AI’s rapid growth.

In advance of any regulation, employers and employees can’t be certain of the impact AI will have on people and their jobs. All they can do is say that the TMC sector is potentially better positioned to reap the benefits of AI than other industries. But we can see from history that, prior to any big technological revolution, there was always fear. In fact, what typically transpired was more complexity in the revolution’s aftermath, which required more people, more jobs and more specialization. 

In the short term, though, this doesn’t help C-Suite executives with their immediate strategy around AI, which includes their human capital strategy.

The Impact of AI on Recruitment and Job Seekers

Aside from the impact of AI on the way work is carried out and the migration of certain tasks and roles, it will also have a profound impact on job seekers and companies looking to hire new employees. 

AI-powered algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data from assessments and candidate profiles to identify the most suitable candidates for specific roles, thereby reducing time and effort spent on manual screening. While AI can analyze large data sets on candidate behavior, skills and cultural fit, organizations will need to improve the way they collect and manage this data through the use of assessments and skills matrices linked to roles.

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AI has the potential to transform the recruitment and talent acquisition process, analyzing vast amounts of assessment and profile data — but the human role in managing and interpreting this data shouldn’t be under-estimated.

James Pilkington
Director, Technology Industry Data Solutions, Aon

Some tried-and-tested selection methods will likely become completely obsolete. The writing of personal letters is exactly the type of task where generative AI can craft impressive prose, matching the skills of the applicant to the role and embellishing where needed. From now on, you should consider that any CV or personal letter might have been written by an AI and explore the use of more robust assessment methods utilizing psychometric assessment, skill assessments, interviews (including video interviews potentially scored by AI) and classic assessment centers.

There are clear benefits to AI for recruitment. Organizations have struggled for years to understand the skillsets of their own employees and matching these to internal job openings. AI’s ability to take complex data and extrapolate the skills applicants possess, will likely be a huge benefit once the models have been trained.

The rapid advance of AI has accelerated workforce changes that have already been underway. To benefit, businesses need to identify how AI is impacting their business models and workforce models. For example, if we know that technology can do the first level response to contact centers we have a range of individuals that can be redeployed, that redeployment needs articulation and the subsequent training of new and desired skills.

People are central here. People — and how a business gets the most out of its people — are crucial to success. AI should be viewed as an accelerator in that endeavor. Companies should also identify how AI helps people to become more effective in the long term. 

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If you can imagine a consultant using generative AI as part of their job, it's not necessarily going to reduce their workload — instead, it will simply free them up to do more value-added work by automating some of the tasks they do.

John McLaughlin
Partner; Talent Solutions; Europe, the Middle East and Africa

As businesses think about leveraging technology and finessing their workforce strategy, the mental health and wellbeing of affected individuals should be top of mind. 

How Do Businesses Navigate This Complexity?  

TMC employers should be aware of the potential for AI to create opportunities as well as threats. Nonetheless, not all roles in TMC companies will be positively impacted by the rapid advances in artificial intelligence. Businesses need to communicate clearly with their workforce — reassuring that a future that includes AI is inclusive of people too. 

What does that mean in practice? Businesses deploying AI shouldn’t necessarily seek to replace people, but rather make people more effective and impactful via the use of AI. Conducting a future skills assessment can be valuable here, enabling companies to identify the future skills that will be needed and valued. Skills benchmarking should be done internally to understand what a business has, as well as externally to heed on the experiences of contemporaries in the market. To do this, businesses need to have clearly articulated their strategy; to understand how technology supports that strategy and consequently, how their talent needs to adapt to the changed landscape.

In this way, TMC companies can reap the rewards and mitigate the human capital risks of a future where AI is front and center. Building and communicating this inclusive future is vital if businesses want to retain a committed, engaged workforce in rapidly changing times. 

General Disclaimer

The information contained herein and the statements expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information and use sources we consider reliable, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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