Winning with AI: Envisioning the Future of Work

A clear demonstration of the power of AI to reshape the nature of work and the potential transformation that awaits the workforce in the era of accelerated tech adoption.
Corndel and the Imperial College Business School hosted the ‘Winning with AI’ event

Bringing together industry expertise and academic insights to discuss the future of work and the transformative role of artificial intelligence (AI). Corndel invited leading HR and L&D professionals from enterprise organisations such as Bank of England, Bosch, Lidl GB, Network Rail, Pret A Manger, and others, offering a unique space to explore the intersection of AI and the evolving world of work.  

The Future of Work: Introducing FOO.CASTR

As part of ‘Winning with AI’, guests were invited to step inside Imperial College London’s world-renowned Data Science Observatory. Here, attendees were introduced to the ground-breaking work of Dr Mark Kennedy, a respected authority in the realm of data science and organisational analytics. 

Dr Kennedy, together with colleague David Brown, Director of Executive Education at Imperial College, unveiled FOO.CASTR. Standing for ‘Future of Organisations – Caster,’ this innovative visualisation tool is designed to empower organisations to model their future trajectory, considering the impact of advanced technologies such as AI. This revolutionary tool has the potential to alter how organisations perceive the future of their workforce. The tool provided a glimpse into what the future might hold for individual organisations and the broader concept of work itself. 

Through a captivating demonstration, FOO.CASTR presented guests with five possible scenarios based on the different rates of tech adoptions and the degree of automation within existing human-performed tasks. These scenarios were not abstract predictions but precise, data-driven models capturing the intersection between technological evolution and job roles. They showcased the potential scope of automation, ranging from 30% to 70% of tasks within various job roles and levels. 

As these possibilities unfolded before the attendees, it was a clear demonstration of the power of AI to reshape the nature of work and the potential transformation that awaits the workforce in the era of accelerated tech adoption. 

David Brown, Director of Executive Education at Imperial College Business School, said:

“It’s great to be working with Corndel to change the future for companies and individuals. We had a terrific discussion based on visualising the future of an organisation under five tech scenarios, 42 discrete technologies with different S curves (onset, pace, adoption) and applied to 1,500 job roles. We had a detailed exploration of tools for tasks which demonstrated impact by level, function and geography. Well done to Mark Kennedy and the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London and Imperial College Executive Education, for delivering authentic insights into this important topic. We understand that companies will need to create their own future based on renewed capabilities and building ‘absorptive capacity.”

Technology as an Equaliser: Shifting from Role to Skill Architecture

A prevalent fear is that AI will render human labour obsolete with its rapidly advancing capabilities. This notion was challenged by experts Dr Mark Kennedy and David H Brown of the Data Science Institute, Imperial College London, who argued that AI should not be seen as a workforce replacement but as an empowering tool. They presented the idea that jobs are more than a collection of tasks and technologies, proposing that AI can alleviate mundane and routine tasks, freeing up human focus for tasks requiring creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. This translates into higher productivity and efficiency for organisations. 

What stood out as a thought-provoking revelation was that the same technology, be it cognitive, computing, robotics, or neuro, could replace the same tasks across all levels of competence. In essence, technology is an equaliser. This results in human skills, such as empathy, leadership, creativity, and strategic thinking, becoming the differentiators in the future job market. In this light, seniority would be more about the depth and breadth of these human skills than specific tasks or roles. This aligns with the increasing recognition that job descriptions should shift away from strict role architecture and instead emphasise skill architecture – a sentiment echoed by numerous attendees during the event. This isn’t simply an adjustment; it’s a strategic transformation towards a more adaptable, capable, and relevant workforce in the era of AI. 

Transforming Workforce: Reskilling for Technological Change

The pace and breadth of technology adoption further highlighted the impending job market transformation. The future will undoubtedly see a shift in job descriptions and likely highlight a significant and more complex skills gap. Traditional practices such as using consultants, outsourcing, or acquisitions do not effectively bridge this gap as they seldom result in tangible skill or capability transfers. The onus, therefore, falls on organisations to reskill their workforce, equipping them with skills for jobs that are on the horizon but have not yet materialised. 

Sean Cosgrove, CRO at Corndel

“Corndel is proud to collaborate with Imperial College Business School to deliver the ‘Winning with AI’ event. We were delighted to invite HR and L&D leaders to engage with Imperial’s academic expertise and explore the future of work. This event signalled a collective commitment towards leveraging AI to transform our workplaces, redefine jobs and enable a future that values human skills just as much as technological competence. It’s a future we’re excited to shape together.”

AI's Influence: Ethics, Reskilling and Adaptation

Following the visualisation at the Data Science Institute, guests heard a pre-dinner talk on AI and digital disruption by Imperial Programme Director Daniel Rowles. 

Rowles, CEO of Target Internet and co-host of the Digital Marketing Podcast, explored the intersection of technology change, people and skills. He highlighted the importance of understanding AI’s limitations, sharing examples of AI adopting racist and misogynistic behaviours due to its data inputs. This incident highlighted the critical role of ‘prompting’ and inputs, a skill that combines human intelligence and creativity with AI for augmentation.  

Rowles also discussed the challenge of standing out in an AI-driven content surge, emphasising the need for uniqueness. He demonstrated how easily voice and visual avatars can be created, raising ethical questions about trust. He argued that navigating these technologies effectively and responsibly requires a new set of skills and appropriate regulation.  

According to Rowles, the ultimate risk isn’t the ethical dilemmas or potential negative societal impacts but rather the risk of not preparing and adapting to rapid technological change. He stressed that the “genie” of AI wouldn’t return to its bottle; hence, a combination of effective regulation and ambitious, wide-reaching reskilling is necessary to harness the benefits of this transformative technology. 

Joanne Gogerly, Head of Professional Education UK & Nordics at Siemens

“The event with Corndel and Imperial College enabled Siemens to understand the partnership better and its benefits for participants on the Leadership and Management courses.

The presentations focussed on AI were informative and insightful. This type of external research and data is crucial to Siemens when developing our strategies for people and learning to enable us to keep up with the pace of change in technologies.”

Utilising Human Skills to Win with AI

The intersection of AI and the future of work is not just about technological change but human adaptation. The ‘Winning with AI’ event was a call for organisations to embrace AI as a tool for growth and transformation. As we venture into an increasingly digital future, the focus will inevitably shift from just ‘doing’ to ‘learning and adapting’ because winning with AI is as much about our human skills as it is about technological advancements. 

We extend our gratitude to all those who participated in this insightful evening. These events bring together like-minded professionals to learn, share insights, and explore critical issues about the future of work. Stay tuned for more event updates.

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