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Is your business strategy optimised for AI and skills?

Zuko Mdwaba, Salesforce Area VP / Africa Executive & South Africa Country Leader

The rapid acceleration of artificial intelligence (AI), data and CRM innovations presents one of history’s most profound technological shifts. Just as emails and SMS transformed the way we communicate, generative AI alone has the potential to revolutionise all aspects of our professional and personal lives.

The World Economic Forum found that AI and machine learning specialist jobs top the list as the fastest-growing roles in 2023, offering businesses significant opportunities to help them better serve their customers, drive growth and boost productivity. Yet many businesses are not currently prepared for successful implementation. Digital skills, ethical and security concerns rank among top barriers to those currently using or planning on using the technology.

According to Salesforce research, nearly one-fourth of global workers rank AI skills as among the top three most important digital skills right now, yet only one in 10 workers say they have AI skills they need to succeed in a digital-first world.

To maximise the full potential of new and emerging technologies like generative AI, it is important that business leaders take steps to prepare their workforce for the jobs of the future – providing the necessary skills and confidence to train and incorporate them in their day-to-day work.

Upskilling is critical to customer service and boosting productivity

Amidst rising costs and complexity of doing business, today’s leaders are striving to take advantage of their data, to operate more efficiently and achieve business intimacy across every area of their organisation.

Having an AI mindset is no longer an exclusive requirement of IT departments; it is increasingly applicable to all teams. By taking the time to understand how AI can help address priorities, pain points and processes, business leaders can equip workers with the tools they need to succeed.

Using generative AI app integrations, different language models and the power to tap into secure customer data insights, companies can unlock the power of CRM and conversational data to make every team more productive. Helping employees perform manual tasks, brainstorm ideas and draft all kinds of content quicker, with the right skills organisations can unlock enormous potential to redefine how work is done.

As generative AI use evolves, so will the demands of customers. In a world where companies are increasingly judged on the quality of their customer experiences, delivering seamless and personalised journeys – and upskilling teams so their businesses can quickly adapt – will be crucial to staying competitive.

Embedding AI and skills into business strategy

As AI becomes democratised, it’s projected to alter tasks within at least 80% of all jobs. In healthcare, for example, automation will help professionals sort through medical images to better advise patients and diagnose conditions faster. In manufacturing, tasks of quality control and inspection will free up workers’ time so that they can focus on more strategic jobs.

As businesses race to bring this technology to market, it’s also critical that they do so inclusively and intentionally. To prime their tech infrastructure, getting their data strategy, security and ethical guidelines right, and matching their workforce development strategy accordingly is key to unlocking the massive opportunities ahead. Understanding how AI and automation works will be essential to ensuring that it is integrated effectively into day-to-day work. Collaboration skills will also be a key tool to ensuring that this technology is functional and used in an ethical way.

In a digital-first world, it is essential that business leaders everywhere keep a skills-based approach to recruiting and training top of mind. To ensure everyone reaps the benefits, companies must cultivate a culture that encourages innovation and continuous learning, empowering employees to be curious, experiment with new technologies and develop their skills as AI becomes integrated in all aspects of our working lives.

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