IBM CEO Arvind Krishna expects AI to eliminate up to 7,800 jobs at the company. 30 percent of current non-customer-facing employees are set not to be needed in the future.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Krishna reveals that IBM will pause hiring additional back-office staff. Think of HR consultants and accountants, for example. Currently, this group at IBM consists of 26,000 employees. “I can easily imagine 30 percent of those being replaced by AI and automation within the next five years.”
IBM announced earlier this year that it would be laying off 3,900 employees. The company has thus been looking to downsize for some time to transform itself towards automation and AI. The tech industry is currently ablaze with AI technology. Numerous companies are announcing AI solutions that look to simplify or take over the work of usual personnel. Nevertheless, in most cases, companies present their AI solutions merely as “assistants” to existing employees.
Automation at IBM, according to Krishna, will focus on things like employee verification and moving employees between departments. More complex tasks will require a human brain for some time to come. Generative AI is known to be “trainable”, which means that repetitive tasks are a logical application of the technology.
IBM has been deploying AI for a while anyway, offering an AI solution for businesses with IBM Watson. The tool became famous in the U.S. when Watson managed to beat two Jeopardy champions in 2011, akin to how Deep Blue stunned the world by eventually beating chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Soon after, Watson Health was expected to lead to a revolution in health care, but expectations have since dimmed somewhat. At least among IBM personnel themselves, AI will leave its mark.