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The future of talent management - it's all AI now!

Robin Fieth, BSA CEO, explores the long anticipated breakthrough in artificial intelligence and looks at the potential impact on our ways of learning, working and much more. First published in Society Matters magazine.

Robin Fieth, BSA CEO, explores the long anticipated breakthrough in artificial intelligence and looks at the potential impact on our ways of learning, working and much more.

This article was first published in the Spring edition of Society Matters magazine.

The flurry of recent stories about ChatGPT have been fascinating. A long anticipated breakthrough in artificial intelligence that threatens or promises (depending on your perspective) to turn our ways of learning, working and much more on its head.

From doing your homework for you to, apparently, successfully passing a Wharton MBA paper, the capabilities of this latest innovation and others like it could very well change our world forever.

The stories caused me to return to Richard and Daniel Susskind’s 2015 book, The Future of the Professions, on how technology will transform the work of human experts, and in which they argue that as machines become increasingly capable, it is not at all clear why professionals in sectors as diverse as health, education, divinity,  law, architecture and accountancy (and let’s include banking for good measure) will be able to secure their place indefinitely in joint ventures with artificial intelligence.

So, are we nearing the point where we no longer need to invest in human talent management to achieve growth and advancement in our businesses? Can we secure the future for our organisations by investing in technology  rather than talent? Is the generational technology promise of an easier life and more leisure time actually upon us? Or is this the latest innovation in the cycle of an ever accelerating pace of work – a world in which we humans increasingly become the slaves of technology, rather than the other way round?

Going further back, Jim Collins’s Good to Great, now published well over twenty years ago, relates his team’s  debate on technology and the fear of being left behind. Collins reminds us that technology induced change is  nothing new, as we know when we look back through the amazing histories of so many building societies.  manual ledgers gave way to mainframe computers, which in turn gave way to servers and PCs, and now many societies are embracing robotics and machine learning. Passbooks are no longer written up by hand, and are supplemented or succeeded by websites and apps.

The real question that Jim Collins poses is how great organisations think differently about technology; and how,  when used well, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. He argued that “good-to-great companies never begin their transitions with pioneering technology, for the simple reason that you cannot make good use of technology until you know which technologies are relevant”.

Today’s tech industry may well dismiss that argument, but in the current AI debate, it feels like one we should revisit in terms of how we invest in the future of our businesses and our mutual sector. Surely, I would suggest, we need to double down on investment in talent management. If we are to harness these great leaps in  technology for the benefit of our society and our world, we will need our future leaders to have the skills and experience to do so. And I would argue, with a particular focus on a deep understanding of the proper role and purpose of business in society, and all the ethical considerations that underpin that wonderful definition of  integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

No AI Chatbots were involved in the writing of this article. Whether that is a good thing, I will leave you to decide!