In the midst of a global AI frenzy sweeping through the tech world, one iconic American company, known as the ‘Big Blue’ – IBM, stands at the forefront, reaping the extraordinary benefits of this cutting-edge technology.
Over the past decade, IBM has been tirelessly developing a plethora of AI tools that aim to revolutionise the way businesses operate, enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and productivity.
But amidst the recent surge in AI’s popularity, a revelation from IBM’s Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), Nickle LaMoreaux, has captivated industry insiders and employees alike, shedding light on the remarkable progress witnessed within the company in recent months.
LaMoreaux reveals that AI has liberated employees from tedious back-office administrative tasks, empowering them to delve into more nuanced work that requires the unique touch of human ingenuity.
In fact, IBM’s HR department alone has saved an astonishing 12,000 hours in the past 18 months by automating systems that previously demanded laborious exchanges between managers and employees.
A pause in hiring for who?
Yet, here lies the irony: the very technology IBM employs to expedite mundane processes might ultimately render certain jobs obsolete. Last May, the company announced a pause in hiring for back-office roles, many of which are human resources positions responsible for tasks like drafting employment letters or overseeing employee transfers across departments—tasks that AI could now seamlessly perform. LaMoreaux assures us that this strategic decision to freeze hiring for such roles was made with great intentionality.
In a notable address earlier this year, IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna passionately argued that AI empowers employers to tackle repetitive tasks, thereby freeing up their workforce to engage in higher-value work. Drawing attention to IBM’s own achievements, he proudly mentioned how the company’s use of AI has dramatically reduced the number of HR professionals handling manual labor from a staggering 700 to a lean team of fewer than 50.
How is AI impacting the job market?
The impact of AI on the job market has long been a cause for concern. In a recent report, the World Economic Forum warned that AI could potentially affect around 40 percent of all working hours, with roles in clerical and secretarial positions expected to experience a swift decline.
Hence, the question lingers: Will AI inevitably lead to job losses within IBM? Earlier this year, the company’s visionary leader boldly stated that he could foresee AI seamlessly replacing up to 30 percent of these positions within five years, potentially affecting approximately 7,800 jobs across the company.
As IBM fearlessly embraces the transformative power of AI, the world eagerly watches, fascinated by the delicate dance between technological advancement and human workforce.
The future of work is at stake, and IBM’s resolute journey toward automation serves as a profound testament to the evolving landscape of employment.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.