Emerging technologies are potent force multipliers

Digital transformation is accelerating, reshaping workplaces and sparking a complex mix of anticipation and concern. Our research shows there is an emerging gap between leadership's enthusiasm and employee apprehension regarding AI in the workpalce, highlighting the urgent need for tailored strategies to bridge the divide and foster trust. Enter Jake O’Gorman, Director of Data, Tech and AI Strategy, Corndel.

Digital transformation is accelerating, reshaping workplaces and sparking a complex mix of anticipation and concern. Our third annual Workplace Training Report 2024 examines this critical juncture, where nearly half (52%) of HR leaders do not think their organisations are ready for AI integration, revealing that 99% of organisations focus on addressing potential AI risks within their organisations in 2024.

This is coupled with the fact that only 28% of employees see AI as a positive force in the workplace. This gap between leadership’s enthusiasm and employee apprehension highlights the urgent need for open communication and tailored strategies to bridge the divide and foster trust. Enter Jake O’Gorman, Director of Data, Tech and AI Strategy, Corndel.


Emerging technologies are potent force multipliers

As the dust starts to settle on what has been a phenomenal year in technology, we can begin to see several patterns emerge across the organisations we’ve surveyed. The initial flash-in-the-pan has given way to sustained heat, and we are seeing more familiarity emerge around the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of these new technologies in the world. This enables a much more nuanced conversation than we might have seen only six months ago. As we engage in these conversations, we see three noteworthy trends:  

1. The Future

PwC’s recent 27th CEO survey shows that 45% of CEOs feel their businesses won’t be viable in ten years, up from 39% last year. To combat this, boards and CEOs alike continue to look to technological innovation as the principal means for maintaining relevancy.

The fact that our world will be increasingly technologically enabled is becoming more of a reality, yet one that sits at odds with the evidence of historic underinvestment in the technological infrastructure needed to make it so. Many organisations thus feel they’re playing catchup, working to ever tighter timelines for change initiatives, and placing unrealistic expectations around building and retaining critical technological skills such as Data Engineering in ever-tighter recruitment markets.

2. The Gap

A thread running through our 2024 Workpalce Training Report is the importance of finding, developing, and retaining employees with the requisite skills to sustain and lead organisations. As technological innovation continues to outpace our best-case learning and development plans, this gap widens still. Add to this that we should have no illusions that 2024 will be less disruptive than 2023. Not only will we see the release of more powerful and more specialised large-language models (LLMs), but 2024 is already bringing the first widespread enterprise-level adoption of AI with tools like Microsoft’s co-pilot and IBM’s WatsonX. This adds a dual pressure not only of providing accessible, relevant support as people go through this journey but also challenging our assumptions around the exact technological skills we’ll need in our future workforce.

Take HR, for example. The typical large company has 80 employee-facing platforms, up 40% in the past five years—and each is likely looking for innovative ways to integrate AI into their offering. Considering the inherent risks associated with such innovations and our duty to safeguard employees, how do we ensure that our HR leaders and their colleagues across the business are equipped to know what to look out for?

3. A Hidden Advantage

As difficult as this seems, we may be better equipped than we give ourselves credit for. As we set out to solve some of these pressing issues, we can see that many challenges aren’t so dissimilar to those we’re already solving. It’s the strange experience of heading out for a new destination yet arriving exactly where we’ve always been.

Take access to quality data, a top blocker for enterprises looking to utilise AI and an issue rising to the top of many corporate agendas. Yet, it is an issue Data Analysts and Machine Learning experts have been battling for years. All that has changed is the scale.

We can see this play out in many parts of the business, from ED&I representation to discussions around people’s roles in a changing world, both issues that most people within the HR and L&D space have been looking at for years. This doesn’t make our challenges easy, but as we navigate these issues, it affords us an advantage which we might not have appreciated we had before.

Bringing all of this together, one of the most significant patterns to be aware of is that emerging technologies act as potent force multipliers—accentuating and revealing something important about an organisation’s underlying culture. How we respond to these challenges says a lot about our relationship with trust. One that shines a light on our most difficult, and our most successful traits. What are the conversations happening in your organisation?

Workplace Training Report 2024

This year is a turning point for UK organisations, navigating significant shifts in workplace culture, employee expectations, and the expanding influence of data and technology. Such a dynamic environment calls for a strategic approach by business leaders to cultivate a high-performance culture to achieve competitive advantage. Our Workplace Training Report 2024 offers a critical examination of the evolving workplace culture in UK organisations, highlighting the impact of employee and technological shifts on professional development within the workplace.

These findings are informed by comprehensive market research conducted with 250 HR decision-makers at large UK businesses (1000+ employees) and 1000 UK employees at UK businesses and various sector focus groups.