The IMF released a report at the start of 2024, stating AI is expected to affect nearly 40% of all jobs – and will likely ‘worsen overall equality’.
Getting AI regulation right has never been more important, and the EU’s newly proposed AI Act will be watched closely in the coming months, helping to set an agenda for policymakers and business leaders to follow across the world as the technology continues to accelerate in 2024. And once the Act does come into force, businesses will have to move fast on their AI compliance.
So, what does 2024 have in store when it comes to how GenAI is being handled across businesses and industries in their everyday operations? And what do tech C-suite leaders think?
Demand is sky-high… but technical knowledge is still lacking
First things first, it’s clear that for everyone wants in on AI – the problem is, like any new tech product, such as cloud or security software, not all business leaders know where to start when examining the risks, opportunities, and most effective ways to implement generative AI into their operations.
Indeed, Ben Saunders, Chief Customer Officer at UK scaleup data and AI consultancy Mesh-AI, says, “Since ChatGPT went public, we have seen an increase in demand across financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and energy & utilities industries for advice around how to embed Generative AI into their businesses, across audit and regulatory reporting, marketing, supply chain, ESG strategy and more.”
“Yet, a year on, we’re still seeing a gap between organisations saying they want to reap the benefits of AI, and a lack of understanding of how to apply the technology. We’ve found the biggest barriers to effective AI adoption are poor data quality and accessibility – only 6% of enterprises truly have the in-house skills to innovate at speed and scale with AI.”
“With a lack of guidance and technical knowledge on how to audit and prepare their data effectively, UK industries risk not being able to implement AI effectively or safely across their operations at all – creating huge, missed opportunities for people to reap the benefits of AI in their everyday work.”
Quality, diverse data is the foundation for successful outcomes
A truth apparent when using GenAI, is that the quality and accuracy of its output, is very much dependent on the quality of the training and data that goes into building and developing a particular AI model.
As Phelim Bradley, Co-founder and CEO of online research and AI training platform Prolific, argues, “If 2023 has been about experimenting with and exploring the vast range of technological possibilities when it comes to Generative AI and AI models, 2024will be the year where human beings become an integral part of that development. We’ll also see a maturing of AI training processes, increasing transparency about who is contributing - and how.
“Up to now, many AI models have been trained in labs or offshored to countries where the cost of labour is lower. AI regulation has consequently been a major part of discussions. We’re at an inflection point, and for AI models to be made representative, safe and reliable, the companies that are building AI must start to show themselves to be accountable when it comes to tackling bias and accurate outcomes.
“Democratic inputs into AI are going to become more important than ever, too. These tools need to represent all our opinions and thoughts in a democratically aligned way. There’s a lot more still to be done to get AIs to understand our desires and demonstrate more appropriate social reasoning. AI developers will increasingly be expected to prove they are testing and fine-tuning algorithms based on a diverse, representative and ethically sourced pool of AI workers.”
Investing in AI for career development will be key
Finally, there’s a real part to play for organisations and business leaders to bring people along with GenAI and ensure they can empower their workforces to upskill and perfect their craft in a whole new way with technological tools. This is going to be critical as AI tools have already become part of everyday working life for many white collar professionals in particular – and this will only be positive for a business overall, if the tech delivers more benefits and efficiencies than it does problems or risks.
For Matt Wills, Chief Product Officer at FMCG brand revenue management company Acumen, “ there are certainly ways in which Generative AI can be a useful addition for teams preparing for complex and structured business scenarios, such as negotiations. In the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector for example, we continue to see margins reduced and more competition for favourable shelf placements. Here, AI could help brands understand their position more clearly, through AI analysis of data around pricing and promotions alongside market insights and supply chain costs., to establish the best price at
which to sell.”
“Taking it one step further, AI could be used to replicate a negotiation with a grocer to help sales teams practice how to get a favourable outcome in a range of scenarios. In the future, negotiation via AI may even become more integral, with brands and grocers building their own GenAI apps to undertake cost and pricing negotiations. That may be a long way off, but being aware of the potential AI has to disrupt the market ensures brands are armed to put in place the technologies now that could help to establish the best price for them in the future.”
A brave new world
Overall, it’s clear there are a lot of opportunities at stake with AI. 2024 and beyond offer exciting and promising pathways for businesses to grow, evolve their offerings, and adapt to a business world beset by AI – but only if leaders have done the work to ensure that it is their people who are at the heart of decisions, backed up by the data practices and foundations required for success.