Partner, Organizational Strategy, Business Sustainability
3 Industries Already Infused with AI
Some call it the biggest innovation since the internet browser. For others, it’s even more significant than electricity. This week, the World Economic Forum said that artificial intelligence will transform 20% of all jobs worldwide within the next five years.
But even as artificial intelligence—large language models and generative versions, in particular—have captured the attention of people around the world in a matter of weeks, its impact won’t be everywhere instantly. Many organizations have used AI for the better part of a decade. Most industries probably won’t feel the full force of its capabilities until it’s baked into word-processing programs, spreadsheet makers, and other software that millions of people use every day, says Sharon Egilinsky, a partner in Korn Ferry’s Organizational Strategy practice.
Still, three industries outside of tech—where most of AI’s research and development is concentrated—are already seeing rapid changes as a result of the latest generation of AI. “It really is an opportunity to rethink how work gets done,” says David Ellis, Korn Ferry’s vice president of Global TA Transformation.
ChatGPT was first deployed for educational purposes almost immediately after its creator, OpenAI, made it available to the general public: students used it to write term papers. It’s one of the reasons education leaders have been among the first groups to try to codify rules around AI.
Cheating and plagiarism aside, education presents some applications AI can be used for immediately. Teachers only spend an average of half of their working hours directly working with students. AI can assist with or completely handle such tasks as lesson planning, grading, outside-the-classroom tutoring, parent-teacher communication, and professional development. Some estimates suggest AI could free up 20% to 30% of a teacher’s time, allowing them to dedicate it to their students instead.
Alina Polonskaia, a global leader of Korn Ferry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting practice, says educators are encouraging both teachers and students to experiment with AI—but asking that they disclose what, exactly, they’re using it for and why they chose it over traditional alternatives. “It’s a transparent approach and justification for what you’re trying to achieve,” says Polonskaia.
Marketing and Publishing
Last week, the online journalism organization NewsGuard identified 49 websites—in seven languages—whose content appears to be entirely or mostly generated by AI. The majority of the sites debuted this year.
Leaders are already thinking about how AI can be used to create social-media posts, ad copy, or marketing content. Experts say the current iteration of AI already can create far more efficient search-engine-optimization programs than a human can, write first drafts of product offerings, and even do competitive research.
Firms’ spending on AI-generated marketing products and services, currently about $12 billion a year, could balloon to $108 billion by 2028, according to research group Statista.
For decades, retailers have tinkered with methods to get the right T-shirt—or any product, for that matter—in front of a person at the moment they’re ready to buy. It’s one of the reasons retailers have poured billions into data analysis—to help them predict a magic combination of product offerings and timing.
AI takes all of that one step further. Many retailers already have chatbots that can steer a customer to a general category they are interested in. But the latest iterations allow for much more hand-holding, customization, and information sharing. Some chatbots can even negotiate prices, allowing a retailer to potentially book a sale it might not have made otherwise.
The next step is also closer than people realize, says John Long, North America retail sector leader at Korn Ferry: AI that can design products itself. “The AI can take all the data together and put an actual product together. That’s pretty dramatic,” Long says.
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