Is artificial intelligence more of an opportunity or a threat? The market and opinion research institute YouGov and Statista have just dealt with this question – and to put it in a nutshell: Germans are divided in their opinion. But no matter what your personal answer to this question may be: AI is changing the way we work – and is not stopping at the C-level, i.e. the management level. It’s high time to get to grips with the topic.
The exact result arrived at by YouGov and Statista is hardly surprising: the age group between 25 and 34 in particular sees more opportunity (30%) than threat (19%) in artificial intelligence, while the ratio is reversed among 45 to 54 year-olds with 16% opportunity and 24% threat. The majority of respondents – and this is true across all age groups – answered the question with “both” (27% to 36%) and still some can imagine neither (17% to 23%).
When it comes to the dangers that society sees in the use of AI, “the threat to democracy” and “the loss of jobs” rank at the top with 29% and 28% respectively. While some enthusiastically discuss productivity and efficiency gains thanks to AI applications like ChatGPT, others see major waves of layoffs coming our way. A few weeks ago, OpenAI, the developers of ChatGPT, in cooperation with Open Research and the University of Pennsylvania, published its own study on which professions will be most threatened by AI. According to the study, accountants, mathematicians, programmers, interpreters and journalists are among those whose jobs are threatened by AI. At the beginning of May, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna confirmed that they are not alone in their assessment. In an interview with the Bloomberg news agency, he assumed that several thousand jobs – 7,800 in number – could be replaced by the use of AI in the coming years in his company alone.
The fact that, unlike in past waves of industrialisation, it is primarily “desk jobs” – so-called white collar jobs – that are threatened by artificial intelligence has long since become common knowledge. But one thing is still often forgotten in the public discussion: Namely, AI does not stop at the C-level, i.e. the management level jobs.
An AI as managing director?
The Chinese video game manufacturer NetDragon Websoft, for example, appointed Tang Yu, an AI, as CEO in August last year – and officially seems to be doing well with it, even if many believed it was a PR campaign. Atif Rafiq, who in his professional career has already worked at Amazon, McDonalds, Volvo, MGM and Flatter Entertainment, however, sees plenty of potential in the use of AI at the executive level, especially when it comes to decision-making, according to an article on the British news portal Raconteur. “It will be a golden age for those who know how to use AI,” he says there. Above all, he says, AI will increase the speed of decision-making – because: “Ideas abound in companies. What’s more difficult is figuring out which ones are likely to work.” And this is precisely where AI can help.
Digital Leadership meets Artificial Leadership
Prof. Dr. Tobias Kollmann, who holds the Chair for Digital Business and Digital Entrepreneurship at the University of Essen-Duisburg, has also dealt with the topic in detail. In his research paper “Artificial Leadership: Digital Transformation as a Leadership Task between the Chief Digital Officer and Artificial Intelligence”, which he wrote together with his sons Kilian and Niklas and which was published in the International Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, all aspects of the topic are examined – and not only those that deal with the advantages AI can bring to management. At the same time, it raises awareness for the ethical and moral questions that would have to be clarified sooner or later, such as whether an AI should be allowed to make business-relevant decisions and give instructions to people at all. And he contrasts digital leadership – often represented in the person of the Chief Digital Officer – with artificial leadership.
No profitable use of AI without digital transformation
There is also a summary of his work in an article on manager-magazin.de. I would like to highlight one passage in particular, because it underlines a theme that I myself have been “preaching” to print companies for years, namely the importance of digital transformation and the associated business models for their success in the future. Only on the basis of this “will we be competitive at all in the future”, says Kollmann. Because it is only from this digital transformation that “the data that an AI needs to recognise patterns, to interpret them and to derive decisions from them” will emerge. So anyone who thinks they can skip the compulsory part and go straight to the free part – i.e. introducing AI without having gone through a digital transformation first – will quickly be proven wrong.” There is no better way to sum it up, because anyone who wants to use AI profitably for themselves must first do their homework.
And this is precisely where the challenge lies, because in the implementation, man and machine will meet directly and thus responsibilities will have to be clarified. This is the point where a “field of tension arises between the digitalisation of the existing business and the development of the digital innovation business for the management”. So is a division of tasks between AI and humans realistic in the future? These are essential questions that need to be clarified.
If you want to delve deeper into the topic of how AI is also changing corporate management, you should take a look at Kollmann’s recently published book “Artificial Leadership: The Revolution for Corporate Management” – absolutely recommended reading!
„AI Due Diligence“
And another note on our own behalf: Together with Prof. Dr. Peter N. Posch, Professor at the Technical University of Dortmund and Director of the Centre for Finance, Risk and Resource Management (FiRRM) and co-author (with Jörg Schieb) of the book “Der Digitalschock: Was vom Hype bleiben wird – so verändern ChatGPT, Bard & Co. unseren Alltag” (The digital shock: what will remain of the hype – this is how ChatGPT, Bard & Co. are changing our everyday life – available in German only), zipcon consulting offers an “AI Due Diligence”. During this two-day on-site workshop at your company, the question is whether, where and under which conditions artificial intelligence can be profitably used in the individual case. To this end, we jointly analyse the circumstances, structures and processes of your company, identify potential areas of application and work out which prerequisites may need to be created. At the end of the two-day workshop, there will be concrete recommendations for action – a “workbook” from professionals for professionals. If you are interested, please contact us at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org.