Companies Go All Out to Up Their Generative AI Game Experts expect the new technology to transform jobs more than eliminate them. Here’s how some companies are responding.


As the advent of generative artificial intelligence (AI) continues to spark enthusiasm and concerns about its impact on jobs, many white-collar employees are eagerly awaiting clear guidelines and training from their employers. According to a survey by Boston Consulting Group Inc., over 85% of workers believe they will require training to adapt to AI-driven changes in their roles, yet less than 15% have actually received any training so far.

However, the situation seems to be changing. While some companies have placed restrictions on or banned the use of tools like ChatGPT due to information security concerns, others have embraced generative AI and are scrambling to implement company-wide training programs. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), a consulting firm, is a prime example. Starting in August, they plan to roll out mandatory training for their entire US workforce over five months.

PwC aims to demystify the technology and dispel concerns about AI's impact on jobs through this training initiative. The company has divided its workforce into three layers based on the depth of understanding required. The first layer involves mandatory training for all employees, irrespective of their roles, to grasp the fundamentals of generative AI, including its definition, functionalities, best practices, and ethical and responsible usage.

The second and third layers cater to software engineers, who require more technical training to integrate AI into internal systems, and senior leaders, who need a comprehensive understanding to assist clients in transforming their businesses. PwC's goal is not to have an excess of subject matter technologists; rather, they want employees at all levels to possess a foundational understanding of generative AI.

Notably, PwC has limited the training roadmap to December because they anticipate the technology will continue to evolve, ensuring they remain adaptable. In contrast, other firms like Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. have taken a more flexible approach, offering voluntary formal training that employees can complete in their own time.

Publicis Sapient, a digital consultancy, has adopted a targeted approach. While the specifics of the training vary based on job nature, the company requires all employees to learn prompt engineering. This entails crafting precise questions to obtain the most effective responses from chatbots. Engineers are expected to complete this training by September.

Coursera Inc., an online learning platform, has chosen a "learn-by-doing" strategy. The company's CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda, has encouraged employees to explore the enterprise version of ChatGPT and reimbursed anyone who upgraded to it. Employees are urged to experiment and share their learnings in dedicated Slack channels and regular meetings. Maggioncalda acknowledges that effective organizational transformation cannot be solely driven either from the bottom-up or top-down. Middle managers play a crucial role, and Coursera is working on developing training programs to enable them to guide their teams in adapting their work practices.

In summary, companies are recognizing the need to equip their employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the evolving landscape of generative AI. With a range of approaches, from mandatory training to flexible learning options, organizations are striving to stay ahead of the curve and ensure their workforce is well-prepared for the changes brought about by AI technology. 

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