AI Governance , AI Technologies , Generative AI

Young Employees Embrace AI Tools as Employers Catch Up

'Generation AI' Leads Adoption, Saving Work Hours and Boosting Productivity
Young Employees Embrace AI Tools as Employers Catch Up
Image: Shutterstock

Remember the BYOD saga? What began as bring your own device later evolved into bring your own applications and was eventually termed as "shadow IT." The debate over whether employees should be allowed to use their own tools at work has resurfaced - this time with AI tools. A recent Deloitte survey with 11,900 individuals across the Asia-Pacific region found that young employees are leading the generative AI adoption, even as their employers strive to catch-up.

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AI became the next big opportunity for businesses since the emergence of ChatGPT in November 2022. Recruiters prioritized candidates with AI skills, even those with basic to intermediate proficiencies. While many organizations cautiously tested AI tools or conducted proofs of concepts, their employees embraced applications such as ChatGPT, Gemini, Midjourney, Dall-E, Claude, GitHub Copilot, and other AI-enabled productivity tools including Jasper.ai and SEO.ai.

Enterprise software vendors such as Microsoft, Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, SAP and others subsequently began incorporating gen AI capabilities into their products. The Deloitte survey, "Generative AI in Asia Pacific: Young Employees Lead as Employers Play Catch-Up," found that the robust adoption of gen AI has been driven by tech-savvy, young employees, known as "Generation AI." While employers are facing new challenges and opportunities as they adapt to the changes brought about by gen AI adoption, Generation AI is leading the way in saving work hours, creating new skill development opportunities, creating more sustainable workloads, and increasing productivity, according to the report. The report found that the dynamic business impact of gen AI adoption, coupled with a projected 182% increase in daily usage over the next five years, reflects a trajectory toward deeper integration (See Figure 1).

Students and young employees are keen on honing their skills, knowing that AI knowledge will offer more employment opportunities in the near future, even as every organization looks for AI skills today.

Figure 1 (Image: Deloitte Insights)

Key findings from the report

  • Generation AI leads the way: Students and employees lead the gen AI revolution across the APAC region, but only 50% believe their managers know they are using it;
  • Significant impact: Gen AI is expected to significantly affect 16% of working hours across the APAC region, amounting to almost 11 billion work hours per week;
  • Traditional technology hierarchy: This may be disrupted with the rapid adoption of gen AI in developing countries at 30%, which is higher compared with developed economies across the APAC region;
  • Talent benefits: Gen AI users across the APAC region save approximately 6.3 hours per week, enabling employees to acquire new skills;
  • Saves time: Gen AI can support more sustainable workloads and productivity, with 41% of time savers believing this has improved their work-life balance;
  • Managing risks: Three-quarters of businesses are falling behind on gen AI adoption, according to their own employees.

Within the APAC region, a staggering 75% of Indian students and employees recognize gen AI's potential to elevate the region's role in the global economy, with 83% expressing confidence in its ability to enhance social outcomes (See Figure 2).

"What we have experienced in the last 12 months is that the challenges faced by our clients in Indonesia or India are almost immediately relevant to teams in Italy and Ireland," said Chris Lewin, AI and data capability leader, Deloitte Asia Pacific. "One key lesson is that the rapid adoption of AI will not directly eliminate jobs, but the impact will be felt by businesses that fail to adapt. Their employees, and in particular, talent new to the workforce, will be drawn to rival businesses offering AI applications that can redefine the future of modern work."

Figure 2 (Image: Deloitte Insights)

Prudent AI Adoption

Even as employees explore AI tools for personal use, some organizations are providing AI tools for official purposes while enforcing usage policies. Indian multinational IT services and consulting company Mphasis is an early adopter of the ISO 42001:2023 standard for AI management systems, ensuring comprehensive policies, procedures, and security controls for AI and large language models at the enterprise level.

At Mphasis, employees can only use approved enterprise-grade AI tools to safeguard client data and privacy. Every new AI tool must undergo a thorough compliance review and approval process before being enabled for use, said Ravi Vasantraj, global delivery head, Mphasis.

Senior developers and tech leads who are 25 to 35 years old primarily leverage tools such as GitHub Copilot to boost productivity; in addition, GitHub Copilot is equipped with predefined guardrails for all licenses. Project managers, solution teams, and leaders aged 35 years and above mainly use tools such as Microsoft 365 Copilot. Mphasis has implemented mandatory AI training at all levels and monitors progress consistently.

Apart from this, Mphasis has engineered a comprehensive framework utilizing Copilot, seamlessly integrating with agile boards, code generation, fixes, scanning and DevOps procedures. It is also developing an internal knowledge management system using AI tools such as Copilot and OpenAI to democratize access to internal knowledge across all employees. It is also automating its internal employee service desk using Azure's AI framework to efficiently address employee queries about leave balances, expenses, and more.

"We encourage the cautious use of AI tools, supported by our published policies integrated into mandatory data security training," Vasantraj said.

Deloitte said even employees are concerned about the consequences of using AI tools that may not be accurate in their output today (See Figure 3).

Figure 3 (Image: Deloitte Insights)

Tanu Gulati, an independent senior human resources advisor, said that her organization does not permit employees to use their own AI tools for business purposes. "But, at the same time we cannot restrict them from using their handheld devices. As they use the company network, we monitor the use of internet and which tools they are using on their devices," she said.

What Business Leaders Must Do

AI applications can make employees more productive and save time on routine tasks.

"Gen AI has revolutionized the approach and future of work. Unlocking newer possibilities can help us accomplish tasks faster, better, and in a more creative manner, leading to more meaningful experiences for talent," said Anjani Kumar, partner, consulting, Deloitte India. "To fully leverage this transformative technology, it is crucial to address implementation challenges and deepen our understanding of its capabilities. Despite its clear benefits, obstacles such as implementation complexities, risk aversion and knowledge gaps impede widespread adoption."

Organizations can embrace this paradigm shift with a proactive approach and comprehensive understanding of AI's capabilities.

"Leaders should use these technologies not only for efficiency gains but also to fundamentally reshape business models and processes. Overcoming implementation hurdles requires proactive engagement and a comprehensive understanding of AI's capabilities among stakeholders," Kumar said.


About the Author

Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira

Sr. Director - Editorial, ISMG

Pereira has nearly three decades of journalism experience. He is the former editor of CHIP, InformationWeek and CISO MAG. He has also written for The Times of India and The Indian Express.




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