Why Filipino workers, leaders need AI | Inquirer Opinion
Business Matters

Why Filipino workers, leaders need AI

Last year, the world was introduced to generative artificial intelligence (AI) platforms and since then, it has been diffused faster than any technological breakthrough in history, rapidly advancing innovation, and becoming a powerful ally for professionals across industries and functions. A lot has changed, in other words.

But how is it affecting work? How is it impacting the job market? How is it coming to life in the Philippines? Our Work Trend Index is an annual study that explores how work is changing in the here and now. By analyzing data from 31,000 respondents across 31 countries, labor and hiring insights from LinkedIn, and productivity patterns from Microsoft 365, we identify the key trends, challenges, and opportunities that shape the future of work.

In this year’s edition titled “AI at Work is Here. Now Comes the Hard Part,” three key findings stand out: Filipino workers are embracing AI. It comes as no surprise that 86 percent of Filipino knowledge workers are already using AI at work, higher than the global average of 75 percent. Respondents say AI helps them save time, be more creative, enjoy their work more, and focus on their most important work. We’re seeing true innovation as well, as they explore AI’s potential across different workstreams and outputs. But while Filipinos are being innovative and experimenting more with AI, they’re also doing so on their own instead of being driven by their leaders, which is a cause for concern.

Leadership vision is key. The report shows that 79 percent of leaders believe their company needs AI to stay competitive, but 60 percent admit they lack a plan and vision to implement it. This gap created a phenomenon called “Bring Your Own AI,” where users bring AI tools to work without guidance or mandate. Not only does this put company data at risk, but it also hinders organizations from reaping the benefits of AI at scale. The data is clear: Leaders absolutely need to lean in. Organizations that move to quickly invest in AI not only see a return on their investments very soon—and in considerable amount—but they also become what we call “AI power users.”

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The rise of the power user and what they reveal about the future. The report identifies four types of AI users on a spectrum, from skeptics who rarely use AI, to power users who use it extensively. Power users are ahead of the pack: Using AI at work several times a week and saving more than 30 minutes a day. They’re more likely to experiment with AI, redesign their business processes and workflows, and most importantly, share what they learn with their coworkers. In other words, power users are critical not only because of the efficiency they achieve for themselves, but because they create other users in their organizations and, in turn, scale efficiency and innovation. They also get more support and training from their leaders and organizations, who encourage them to consider how AI can transform their function and provide them with tailored learning opportunities.

Leading in the era of AI. As the AI revolution continues, we work with our customers, partners, and communities all over the world to effectively harness this incredible tool and unleash the potential of AI for their stakeholders. Every innovation begins with a few key steps. First, don’t wait for the use cases. Embrace a culture of experimentation and learning and encourage workers to try AI. Go cohort-by-cohort in applying AI solutions to build the knowledge base. From there, analyze the data, take your learnings, and identify key business outcomes and challenges that AI can help address.

Next, scale automation and innovation by providing training and resources for workers to develop their AI skills and knowledge. Based on data from LinkedIn, 70 percent of Filipino leaders say they would not hire someone without AI skills, and 68 percent say they’d rather hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced one without them. Everyone will need AI skills, so workers need to upskill to remain competitive, while organizations need to provide AI opportunities to their employees to retain the best talent.

Finally, be responsible by design. Digital trust hinges on what we do today, and we all bear the responsibility of ethical use. Organizations should establish clear policies and guardrails for the responsible and ethical use of AI, and monitor and address any misuse or abuse. AI is transforming work and careers in the Philippines, and the report shows that there is a huge opportunity for those who embrace it and learn from it. By closing the gap between workers and leaders on AI, and by unleashing the potential of AI for their business, companies not only stay competitive, but also create a more productive, creative, and satisfying work environment for their employees.

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Peter Maquera is chief executive officer of Microsoft Philippines.

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Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]).

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