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AI & Future Technologies

“Future of Professionals Report” shows rising power of GenAI to impact work

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

Industry professionals expect generative AI to become the primary driving force that will dramatically change the way they work, according to a new report by Thomson Reuters

In a finding that may surprise very few people, artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI) have become the primary driving forces that are expected to change how professional work is done today. Adding to this impact is the fact that professional work itself is undergoing massive change, as organizations look for ways to reduce costs and improve their efficiency, and professionals themselves voice their desire for a more rewarding work-life balance.

To examine this further, Thomson Reuters today released its 2nd annual Future of Professionals Report, which shows that among the thousands of professionals surveyed, the rise of AI and GenAI remains the dominant issue that they see propelling change in their respective professions. The survey received more than 2,200 responses in all — across the legal, tax, trade, accounting, and risk, fraud & compliance fields, and within individual firms, corporate functions, and government agencies around the world. This itself represented a substantial increase compared to the first survey conducted in 2023.

Yet, while more professionals seemed eager to share their perspectives about the forces of change impacting their work life, the report shows a more nuanced movement among respondents’ attitudes, especially when compared to last year’s survey. Indeed, it wasn’t just that more professionals see AI having a greater impact on their work over the next five years — which is true — it’s also that their perspectives on AI and how it’s used within their professions are evolving as well.

Future of Professionals

When asked about which issues they’ve identified as having the strongest impact on their profession, more than three-quarters (77%) of respondents overall said they believe AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work over the next five years. This was 10 percentage points higher than in the 2023 report; and in fact, the strongest opinion is increasing the most, with 42% of all respondents now saying they believe AI will have a transformational impact, compared to 34% in 2023.

“Professionals no longer need to speculate on the potential for AI to impact their work as they are now witnessing its effects firsthand,” says Steve Hasker, president and CEO of Thomson Reuters. “As we look to the future, one thing is clear: AI-empowered professionals and their companies will outpace those who resist this transformative era.”

Among expected benefits, some fears still persist

In addition to identifying AI as the biggest impact on professional work, this report looks at the state of AI now — roughly 20 months after the public release of ChatGPT, the public-facing GenAI platform that took the world by storm in late-2022.

Also, the report examines what professionals think about how AI can improve both workplace efficiency and add value to their work products and client services. Most interestingly, they predict that use of AI-powered tech tools could free up the average professional as much as four hours per week in the next year. Not surprisingly, many professionals have strong ideas about what they’d like to do with that extra time.

Despite this palatable excitement about what GenAI can do in the workplace, some concerns around these innovative technologies persist. Yet, many of these worries seemed to have ebbed, especially around job loss and the technology’s potential for malicious use, and instead have been somewhat replaced by an acknowledgement that there needs to be humans in the loop to keep AI work ethical and on track. Similarly, fears that widespread AI adoption across professional work would lead to job loss has now given way to an expectation among many professionals that more AI-specialist and technology-related jobs will be created.

While overall, the report tilts heavily toward the impact of AI-powered technologies on various professions, it really paints a picture of what type of change is seen as most significant to the way that professionals do their work, how new technology can be used ethically, and what they can expect from their professional lives in the future.

“The responsible use of AI is crucial, with nearly two-thirds of professionals stressing human oversight,” explains Hasker. “As we navigate this change, we must remember the future of AI is ours to shape.”

You can download a full copy of Thomson Reuters 2nd annual Future of Professionals Report, here.

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