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06 December, 2023

The Communications Industry is Lagging in Embracing Generative AI

The Asia-Pacific Communications Index for 2023 has uncovered an alarming trend in the region’s communications industry: a significant underutilisation of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. The report exposes a lack of belief in AI’s effectiveness for automating routine PR and comms tasks and reveals concerns about potential job losses and skills gaps.

The study, conducted by the Asia-Pacific Association of Communication Directors (APACD) and Ruder Finn Asia, polled over 100 senior in-house communications executives. It found that almost half (48%) of respondents do not think generative AI can effectively automate routine PR and comms tasks. This disconnect between the potential of AI and its perceived capabilities is a significant hurdle that the industry needs to overcome.

Key Findings

Job Security and Skills Gap Concerns: The study highlights fears about job losses and skills gaps that may arise from using AI. It’s noteworthy that less than a third (29%) of respondents are familiar with these tools, and only 14% regularly use them. These numbers indicate a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed.

The Benefits of AI: Efficiency and Productivity: The respondents overwhelmingly agree (72%) that AI can bring efficiency and productivity benefits to their operations. However, less than three in 10 recognize the potential benefits of AI in terms of content accuracy, knowledge sharing, messaging consistency, or teamwork/collaboration. This suggests that the industry is not yet fully aware of the wide-ranging benefits of AI.

Ethical Considerations and the Need for Transparency: An overwhelming 93% of respondents believe organizations have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy and impartiality of AI-generated content. Transparency, bias/misinformation, and privacy/data protection were other major ethical considerations. These concerns underline the need for greater transparency, accuracy, and impartiality in AI-generated content, even though there is less support for the development of guidelines and best practices.

The Future of Work in Communications: The respondents perceive writing and editing roles to be under the most threat from AI. However, not a single respondent believes that creative, strategy, account management, or business development roles are in danger. This suggests a belief in the irreplaceable value of human judgment in these areas. Interestingly, almost half of the respondents foresee the emergence of new roles focused on data interpretation and analysis.

Recommendations for the Future

The 2023 Asia-Pacific Communications Index paints a clear picture: the communications industry is lagging in adopting and harnessing the full potential of generative AI technologies. While understandable fears about job security and skills gaps exist, the industry must shift its perspective to view these tools as complementary rather than replacements.

The future of the communications industry will undeniably be shaped by the integration of AI. To stay ahead and remain competitive, businesses and professionals within the industry should consider the following recommendations:

1. Embrace AI as a Tool for Enhanced Productivity

AI tools should be seen as an opportunity to augment human capabilities and increase productivity, rather than a threat to job security. These tools can automate routine tasks, freeing up human resources to focus on more strategic, creative, and high-value aspects of PR and communications.

2. Invest in Reskilling and Continuous Learning

It’s crucial to invest in continuous learning and reskilling initiatives. These efforts can equip employees with the skills necessary to adapt to AI-driven changes and minimize the skills gap. By doing so, businesses can ensure they have a workforce that can leverage generative AI tools effectively and ethically.

3. Foster a Deeper Understanding of AI Capabilities

Nearly half of the respondents in the study were skeptical about generative AI’s ability to handle complex and sensitive information. A deeper understanding of AI’s capabilities, limitations, and potential can help alleviate these concerns. Businesses should invest in workshops, training, and seminars to educate their workforce about AI.

4. Prioritize Ethics and Transparency

As highlighted in the study, organizations have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy and impartiality of AI-generated content. Transparency, bias prevention, and privacy protection should be at the forefront of any AI implementation strategy.

5. Explore the Potential of AI in New Areas

Social media management content creation and scheduling were identified as areas most ripe for AI automation. However, the potential of AI extends far beyond these areas. Businesses should explore leveraging AI for internal communications, knowledge base/FAQ content creation, and even email communication.

What next?

In conclusion, the rise of generative AI is not a trend to be feared but an opportunity to be seized. By embracing AI, investing in reskilling, fostering a deeper understanding of AI, prioritizing ethics, and exploring AI’s potential in various areas, the communications industry can ensure it remains at the forefront of technological innovation. The future is here, and it’s time for the industry to catch up.