New research: 71% of US executives will bring back furloughed workers in the short-term, but AI investments made during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue shaping the US workforce

August 27, 2020 • 4 minute read

IPsoft, the independent leader in enterprise AI, today announced new research, in partnership with Censuswide, examining the uptake of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on the American workforce.

  • 88% of organizations added or scaled up AI technologies since the onset of the global pandemic

  • 82% intend to use AI and other emerging technologies to hedge against fully reopening their business to full capacity in 2020

  • 64% of respondents predict new technologies and people will replace more than 30% of their workforce by 2022

NEW YORK, August 26, 2020—IPsoft, the independent leader in enterprise AI, today announced new research, in partnership with Censuswide, examining the uptake of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on the American workforce. The survey of 250 US CXOs, vice presidents and business owners revealed that while 71% of businesses [1] intend to safeguard jobs by bringing back furloughed workers, almost two thirds anticipated significant turnover within the next two years. Sixty-four percent predicted that their organizations will replace 31% or more of their workforces with new technologies or new people in order to better meet strategic goals by 2022.

AI is supporting business continuity during the pandemic

The nationwide study of executives at medium and large organizations [2] found that 88% of businesses added or scaled AI within their organizations during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Appearing to prioritize immediate needs, these organizations invested in applications that could help answer customer calls (53%), analyze large data sets (57%), provide employees with IT services (53%), provide employees with HR services (49%), assess customers for eligibility or risk (49%), and perform contactless intake calls (47%). Forty percent also introduced AI to perform mid-senior level, white-collar tasks, indicating investment in sophisticated AI solutions that go beyond robotic process automation software (RPA) and the use of bots.

AI has been so effective at bolstering operations during the pandemic that 82% of respondents said they intend to use AI and other emerging technologies to hedge against reopening to full capacity in 2020. The figure rises to 91% among respondents in the financial sector and 83% among those working in the IT and telecoms industry. The increase highlights the capability of sophisticated AI to fulfill job functions in low-touch industries, including white-collar work.

People are a major factor in AI adoption

Business continuity is a significant priority for organizations adopting or scaling AI technology during the pandemic. However, as many as 91% of executives said they also consider how the technology will impact their existing employees before they acquire or scale it [3].  Just under 3 in 5 (59%) respondents [4] claimed that AI experience is the most attractive trait to the hiring team for a CV. The majority of respondents reported looking at how AI supports a more flexible working environment, such as enabling a shorter work week or allowing workers to do the bulk of their work at a time that suits them best (56%). In addition, decision makers said they also consider how new AI allows staff to focus on higher level tasks (47%) and how it saves existing employees’ time (40%). The number of  existing jobs these technologies could replace is also considered by those surveyed (32%). Only 5% of respondents said that their company does not consider the effects of AI on their existing employees when acquiring or scaling AI in their organization. By taking existing employees into consideration, most business leaders appear to be thinking holistically about the impact AI has, and will continue to have, on their businesses as a whole.

Of those who reported acquiring or scaling AI during the pandemic, 93% said it has created a need for workers with the technical skills required to manage AI or its outcomes. Just under a third (32%) of these respondents [5] said they have already begun hiring new people for the roles that AI has created during the pandemic and 36% have already upskilled or reskilled existing employees to get the technical skills they need to fill these roles. Meanwhile, 2 in 5 (40%) respondents noted that their organization intends to hire new people for these roles and 38% are planning to launch upskilling or reskilling programs for current employees in order to bridge their business’ AI skills gap. When assessing talent to reskill or upskill, an overwhelming number of respondents [6] said their organizations are most likely to select talent from their IT departments (63%), followed by finance (17%), HR (9%) and marketing and communications (7%).

Chetan Dube, founder and CEO of IPsoft, said: “At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across the country—and around the world—turned to AI to strengthen their balance sheets, maintain and even enhance their customer service offerings. AI was a buoy for surviving in difficult circumstances. What this research shows is that, while AI has served as a stopgap and an aide during the pandemic, business leaders recognize that AI is here to stay and will play an even greater role in the workplaces of the future.”

Dube added: “Business leaders have also awakened to the realization that humans and technology are not at odds. The digital economy is speeding up. Organizations need to constantly consider how their people and technologies fit into their strategies, not every forty years but every four months.”

Methodology

IPsoft commissioned independent market research company Censuswide to conduct the research. A total of 250 C-suite individuals, vice presidents and business owners (aged 18+) were surveyed in August 2020 in the United States. The respondents were from organizations with at least 500 employees in any sector.

[1] 71% of respondents whose organization acquired or scaled up AI technologies during the global COVID-19 pandemic noted that after acquiring or scaling AI technologies during the pandemic, their organization is very likely to bring back workers who were furloughed during the pandemic

[2] Companies with 500+ employees

[3] Statistic includes the percentage of respondents that did not select: "I/my company do not consider the effect on our existing employees when we acquire or scale AI within our organization’" "unsure" or "none of the above" when asked; "Which of the following statements, if any, describe the effects on employees that you/your company consider when/if you were acquiring or scaling AI within your organization? (Tick all that apply)"

[4] Respondents whose organization acquired or scaled up AI technologies during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a need for workers with the technical skills required to manage AI or its outcomes, such as data scientists or AI trainers and whose organization has already started hiring new people for these roles and/or intends to hire new people for these roles.

[5] Respondents whose organization acquired or scaled up AI technologies during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a need for workers with the technical skills required to manage AI or its outcomes, such as data scientists or AI trainers.

[6] Respondents whose organization acquired or scaled up AI technologies during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a need for workers with the technical skills required to manage AI or its outcomes, such as data scientists or AI trainers and whose organization intends to launch upskilling or reskilling programs to help their existing employees fill these roles or has already upskilled or reskilled existing employees to help existing employees fill these roles.

About Amelia

Amelia is a leading Enterprise AI software company with a long history of innovation in automation and Conversational AI. We create fulfilling human experiences through groundbreaking AI solutions, as we enable conversational experiences, streamline IT operations, and automate processes. In 2014, we launched Amelia, the Most Human AI™; then in 2018, we introduced true end-to-end, enterprise-wide automation allowing enterprises to quickly optimize back-end operations. Amelia is consistently recognized by third-party analyst firms as a market leader. Headquartered in New York City with offices in 15 countries, Amelia’s roster of client success stories speaks for itself: Our technology impacts more than 200 of the world’s leading brands, including global leaders in banking, insurance, telecommunications, and other industries. See how Amelia is powering the Future of Work at amelia.ai.

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