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Microsoft-LinkedIn Report: Employees Topple Age-old Workplace Barriers by Embracing BYOAI Devices

Disappointed by the slow pace of adoption of Artificial Intelligence at the workplace, employees are taking things into their own hands. Employees are taking (full) ownership of their AI plans by bringing their own AI tools to the workplace, sometimes, keeping things under cover and hidden from their employer. According to the latest Microsoft-LinkedIn report, 78% of AI users admitted that they bring their own AI devices to work. 52% of this new community of proactive AI users admitted they are reluctant to reveal they are using the technology for their most important tasks. BYOAI is more common in small and medium-sized organizations, where 80% of employees bring their own AI devices. If you thought Gen Z or millennial workers are doing it, then “No”– this  BYOAI trend cuts across all generations, found the new research.

BYOAI Is Not Just for Gen Z
BYOAI Is Not Just for Gen Z

So, what is BYOAI and how does bringing your own AI devices impact workplace culture?

BYOAI is a recent phenomenon that emerged in the post-ChatGPT3 era. The rampant availability of free and subscription-based open-source and proprietary AI tools attracts first-time users. These AI users are non-hesitant in utilizing the free AI tools to accomplish tasks that are medium to hard on the difficulty scale. With little or no supervision, BYOAI devices can wreak havoc on an organization’s existing data privacy and cybersecurity posture, especially when employees use their email IDs and business contact details to subscribe to AI devices at the workplace. It also expands the existing IT sprawl, leading to an uncontrolled usage of IT resources. However, the benefits of BYOAI devices seem to outweigh the pitfalls so far, given the fact that employers are yet to match the pace of AI adoption compared to the AI users at the workplace.

BYOAI devices help employees beat fatigue and exhaustion in their jobs. 

68% of people struggle with pace and volume of work; 46% of people feel burned out due to work. AI use cases are redefining workplace culture for highly stressful jobs where workers can bring BYOAI devices to free up time and resources.

The Microsoft-LinkedIn research surveyed 31,000 people across 31 countries to find employees who use AI at work for important tasks are fearful of getting replaced by the technology! While 75% of people are already using AI at work, 46% of them began their AI journeys less than six months ago. These AI novices are driven by their need to meet workplace expectations.

The Contrast: AI at the Workplace; AI Outside the Office

With AI, it’s time to go all in.

There is a stark contrast in the sentiments among leaders inside and outside (during the hiring and selection of candidates). Likewise, among the employees. While 66% of leaders say they are least likely to hire someone without AI skills, the same report found 60% of leaders worry their organization lacks a clear plan and vision for AI implementation. This leaves a lot to cover for employees who are looking at AI to raise the bar inside the office and break the career ceiling to apply for new roles and positions. 46% of respondents are almost certain they are quitting their current jobs in the year ahead and are willing to upskill with AI for creative designing, cybersecurity, and engineering jobs.

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Knowledge workers use AI to manage their current volume of work.

To meet project deadlines, a majority of workers use AI to remain competitive and stay laser-focused on their career aspirations. While AI saves time, boosts creativity, and allows them to focus on their most important work, knowledge workers also admitted they are missing out on the benefits sprouting from strategic enterprise AI usage, approved by their top management and leaders. Secondly, they are also aware of the risks the unsupervised use of AI tools and devices brings to their company. Clearly, there is an opportunity for every leader “to channel this momentum into business impact at scale,” says the report.

Microsoft also announced new capabilities in Copilot for Microsoft 365, and LinkedIn made free more than 50 learning courses for LinkedIn Premium subscribers designed to empower professionals at all levels to advance their AI aptitude.

What LinkedIn Data Says About AI Skills and Job Titles in 2024

According to the 2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report from Microsoft and LinkedIn, LinkedIn is seeing remarkable growth in the number of professionals who are adding trending keywords such as GPT, ChatGPT, Generative AI, AI skills, and others, to their profiles. The use of generative AI in marketing, product development, IT networking and security, HR management, finance and accounting, manufacturing and research and development is at an all-time high.

Employees don’t want to miss out on the AI wave as a means to scale their career objectives in 2024. With leadership at most organizations slow to act and respond to the growing AI demands, we could find tech and talent disruptions at the workplace making a tangible business impact in the coming months. It wouldn’t be a surprise to find talent migration to AI-focused organizations that have clearly laid down their strategic AI adoption and upskilling charter for the employees and contractual workers. If organizations can find new young talent early in their AI journeys, 77% of leaders said such professionals could be given bigger responsibilities to fulfill. Moreover, to look competitive in the market, 12% of recruiters say they are creating new job roles tied to generative AI use cases. For example, the Head of AI role is emerging as a must-have leadership role, growing by 23% in 2023.

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As employees take things into their own hands, there would be a massive flux in job titles and job descriptions, which the report identified with the Great Reshuffle of 2021. In 2023, the platform witnessed a 142x rise in LinkedIn members who added key AI skills like Copilot and ChatGPT to their profiles. The platform also reported a 160% increase in non-technical members subscribing to LinkedIn Learning courses to build their AI aptitude.

Inferring from the Microsoft-LinkedIn report, in 2024, an ‘AI talent match’ would be the biggest workplace empowerment hack for organizations that are rejigging their strategy for attracting top professionals in the industry. At the time of this announcement, Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn said, “AI is redefining work, and it’s clear we need new playbooks. It’s the leaders who build for agility instead of stability and invest in skill building internally that will give their organizations a competitive advantage and create more efficient, engaged, and equitable teams.”

The Era of Power Users Lean In

Power users are reaping the benefits of using AI daily at their workplace. This user group is reshaping the workplace by aiding others in the team with generative AI use cases. For example, when it comes to listening to the importance of generative AI at the workplace, power users are 61% more likely to hear about it from their CEO, 40% from the leader of their department, and 42% from their manager’s manager. So, this user group knows the pulse of AI usage at the workplace. Moreover, these users are 37% more likely to influence their company’s AI learning and training program. To bring the organization up to speed with AI applications, leadership must identify and encourage power users to speak about their innovation, new ethical workflows, and employee development programs. To conclude this article, we must remember employees want AI for their work, and they wouldn’t wait for their companies and their leadership to catch up. Organizations of tomorrow have to embrace a highly democratized and autonomous AI work culture to succeed in their managerial strategies in 2024 and beyond.

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[To share your insights with us as part of editorial or sponsored content, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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