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Innovation

The AI-amplified organization: Preparing for the large language model revolution

Published 18 April 2023 in Innovation • 6 min read

Business leaders should prepare now to benefit from the next wave of AI or risk being swept away. 

 

The rapid development of large language models (LLMs), such as the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) family, has already prompted a significant shift in many industries. With their applications extending far beyond natural language processing, LLMs are poised to reshape the global economic landscape. Think of it as a “technological tsunami” coming your way. Those who are ready will catch the wave, but many will drown. So, you must proactively prepare your business to become an AI-amplified organization” while anticipating the broader economic and social impacts.  

The importance of embracing LLMs

The rapid advancements in AI LLM systems, such as ChatGPT, are set to radically transform the business landscape in the coming years. A recent study co-authored by researchers at OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, indicates that the impact of LLMs will be pervasive, with approximately 19% of jobs having at least 50% of their tasks exposed when considering both current LLM capabilities. This share increases to between 47 and 56% of all tasks when software and tooling built on top of LLMs are included in the estimate 

Their widespread impact suggests that Large Language Models and their derivatives are what is known as a “general-purpose technology”, i.e., in the same league as technologies such as the steam engine, electricity generation and distribution, and computers and the Internet that had massive impacts across economies, rapidly improved over time, and generated many significant co-inventions and spillovers.

However, unlike these prior technological revolutions, seismic effects from LLMs will be felt in years, not decades. As the CEO of a $25B healthcare organization, whom I coach, said, “I’ve been really plugging into the space, and it’s accelerating like crazy. There are huge breakthroughs almost every day. The world is about to change faster than anyone is ready for.”  

To fully harness the potential of AI LLM systems, you should invest immediately in preparing your workforce and fostering a culture of continuous learning

Research in 2017 by McKinsey suggests that adopting AI and automation technologies, including LLMs, would likely lead to the displacement of 15% of the global workforce by 2030 and could impact up to 30% in the same period. Today, their 15% by 2030 midpoint estimate seems low and slow. Kai-Fu Lee, a leading AI natural language processing developer, estimates that 40% of current jobs will ultimately be displaced 

The new technologies will generate new jobs and dramatically increase the productivity of the fortunate creative few. However, the benefits of productivity improvement and new job creation will undoubtedly be eclipsed by the negative impacts of widespread job loss and massive societal dislocation. Another of my AI-savvy CEO clients told me he wonders if future organizations will need any people at all. They will, of course, but far few than today. 

To cope with this rapidly evolving landscape, you must proactively embrace AI LLM systems in your organization. By doing so, you can improve efficiency, enhance decision-making, personalize customer experiences, spur innovation, and gain a competitive advantage. Given the speed of advancement, getting on top of the approaching wave as rapidly as possible is a matter of survival. 

To fully harness the potential of AI LLM systems, you should invest immediately in preparing your workforce and fostering a culture of continuous learning. Your employees must acquire the skills to work effectively alongside AI in what I described in a previous article as symbiotic relationships. By proactively embracing AI LLM systems and integrating them responsibly, your business can unlock enormous opportunities for growth, productivity, and innovation. 

Six ways to take action now

Both CEOs I mentioned have prioritized understanding and using the technology themselves and pushed other leaders in their organizations to get beyond initial fear and denial and into embracing the technology as quickly as possible. 

Evaluate your organization’s current AI adoption and readiness level. Identify areas where AI LLM systems could be implemented immediately to streamline processes and improve efficiency.

Provide training and educational opportunities for your workforce to understand AI LLM systems, their potential applications, and how they can be integrated into their respective roles. 

Formulate a comprehensive strategy outlining how your organization plans to adopt and integrate AI LLM systems and the many industry- and even company-specific applications that will leverage them. Your plan should encompass objectives, implementation timelines, and resource allocation.

Encourage a culture that embraces the LLM revolution. Actively promote and incentivize cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing to facilitate the successful integration of AI systems into the organization.

Stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in AI LLM technologies and be aware of any potential regulatory changes that could impact your industry. This will ensure your organization remains compliant and ahead of the curve. 

Anticipate economic and social impact 

Even as you prepare your businesses to become an AI-amplified organization, it’s vital that you anticipate the broader economic and social implications of these technologies. The widespread adoption of LLMs will have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only individual organizations but also the global economy and society. Understanding these potential outcomes will better position your organization to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive future. 

One of the key areas to consider is workforce transformation. Integrating LLM technology will likely lead to major shifts in the labor market as many “intellectual work” tasks become automated. This may create some new opportunities, but it is sure to result in the displacement of many jobs. So, you need to anticipate these changes and invest in reskilling and upskilling initiatives to ensure your workforce remains competitive and adaptable. 

Ethical considerations are also crucial when deploying AI LLM systems, as they raise concerns surrounding data privacy, algorithmic bias, and fairness. So help drive the development of guidelines and policies that address these ethical considerations and promote responsible AI development and usage within your organization. 

Even as you prepare your businesses to become an AI-amplified organization, it’s vital that you anticipate the broader economic and social implications of these technologies
Even as you prepare your businesses to become an AI-amplified organization, it’s vital that you anticipate the broader economic and social implications of these technologies

Increased income inequality is another likely consequence of the widespread adoption of LLM technology. High-skilled workers and businesses that can effectively leverage AI will reap the most benefits, exacerbating income disparities. So recognize this potential and work collaboratively with policymakers and other stakeholders to develop strategies that promote equitable growth and address rising inequality. 

Staying informed about the regulatory landscape is essential as LLM technologies become more prevalent. Governments and regulatory bodies will likely introduce new policies and regulations to govern their use. You must ensure your organization remains compliant while advocating for balanced and innovation-friendly regulations. 

Lastly, social responsibility is an essential aspect of adopting LLM technology. Take the time to engage with diverse stakeholders, including employees, customers, and communities, to address concerns and ensure that AI LLM systems’ benefits are broadly shared. 

As the influence of AI LLM systems continues to grow, organizations must adapt and prepare for the inevitable changes they will bring. By taking the necessary steps to embrace and integrate these technologies, you can position your business for success in the AI-amplified future. By understanding LLM technology’s broader economic and social impacts, you can proactively shape a more sustainable and inclusive global economy, ultimately contributing to a future where technology drives positive change for all. 

 

Authors

Michael Watkins - IMD Professor

Michael D. Watkins

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD

Michael D Watkins is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD, and author of The First 90 Days, Master Your Next Move, Predictable Surprises, and 12 other books on leadership and negotiation. His book, The Six Disciplines of Strategic Thinking, explores how executives can learn to think strategically and lead their organizations into the future. A Thinkers 50-ranked management influencer and recognized expert in his field, his work features in HBR Guides and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on leadership, teams, strategic initiatives, and new managers. Over the past 20 years, he has used his First 90 Days® methodology to help leaders make successful transitions, both in his teaching at IMD, INSEAD, and Harvard Business School, where he gained his PhD in decision sciences, as well as through his private consultancy practice Genesis Advisers.

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