How AI is enhancing, not threatening the future of professionals

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The widespread influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on nearly every facet of our lives is undeniable. Its rapid expansion has prompted us to reflect on how it can redefine the roles of professionals across industries and presents an opportunity for us to reshape the value we bring to the table. Generative AI holds the potential to drive this transformation –– and the question is not “if” but “when.”

To better understand and support the way professionals and employers are experiencing this time of disruption, we conducted a global study of over 1,200 individuals working across legal, tax and accounting, global trade, compliance and risk industries. Not surprisingly, those we surveyed viewed AI as a catalyst for immense growth, particularly in the areas of increasing productivity and empowering professionals to make the most of their human talent.

Enhancing efficiency: A practical outlook

Professionals agree on AI’s potential to enhance productivity and efficiency. The application of AI is expected to address operational challenges and reshape work processes. Optimism abounds when professionals consider AI’s power in alignment with operational needs, talent, customer expectations, and environmental considerations.

In the legal industry in particular, this enthusiasm for productivity improvement is notably divided between law firms and in-house legal departments. The priorities for productivity differ, reflecting unique objectives within each segment.

Driven by the notion of AI as a competitor, fear of job displacement still looms in some corners of the professional world.

Among law firms, enhancing operations is the primary concern. Notably, 75% of legal professionals and 59% of tax and accounting professionals prioritize productivity. Improving internal efficiency is rated a close second by 50% of law firm employees and 55% of those in the tax and accounting field. In contrast, in-house departments prioritize safeguarding the business, focusing on staying current with regulations and legislation.

Both segments agreed that one of the biggest fears surrounding the use of AI is the risk of accuracy. Although the potential of AI to remove human error is improving, many respondents said they do not yet have complete confidence in the accuracy of its outputs.

Professionals suggested that if clients begin using AI themselves, it could bring new challenges, especially if they are unaware when an answer is inaccurate or incomplete. This further underscores the need for a human — preferably one with experience and industry knowledge — to remain involved in the process, checking for accuracy when the technology is used rather than taking the output at face value.

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