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New Data Supports Need for AI Strategy in Canadian Organizations

It’s clear that AI is impacting the world of work, but perhaps, not in the ways that we think.

The results of the latest Work Trend Index, an annual report from Microsoft and LinkedIn on the trends shaping today’s workplace, show something interesting happening in organizations across Canada. While AI usage is positively impacting knowledge workers across the country, it’s not leaders driving AI adoption, it’s employees.

Leaders see potential but lack a plan

For business leaders, the potential of AI to help drive productivity and solve business challenges is an alluring proposition. And yet, despite the promise of AI, going from individuals experimenting with tools to breakthrough ROI is proving to be a difficult next step. The latest data shows that 74% of Canadian leaders believe their company needs to adopt AI in order to stay competitive, but at the same time, 59% worry that their organization’s leadership lacks a plan and vision to implement it. This challenge, coupled with Canada’s historically cautious “wait-and-see” approach to new technology could have massive implications in an economy increasingly shaped by AI technologies.

Bring-Your-Own-AI: How employees are leading AI adoption at work

With many Canadian companies lacking a solid and strategic plan for AI adoption, a new trend is emerging as employees take matters into their own hands. Intrigued by the promise of generative AI, 79% of Canadian AI users are bringing their own AI tools to their day-to-day work. This trend is particularly high in Canada when compared to the U.S. where only 63% of AI users are doing the same. It’s easy to see why Bring-Your-Own-AI (BYOAI) is on the rise: 90%* say generative AI helps them save time, 84%* say it makes them more creative and 83%* say it makes them enjoy work more.

While this growing trend of BYOAI is helping employees realize the benefits of AI, it’s also creating a potential security risk for companies who lack plans for responsible AI adoption and usage.

*Based on all respondents. Canadian-specific data not available.

AI literacy: table stakes for the workforce of the future

Getting an AI strategy and vision in place will become more urgent as AI is quickly becoming table stakes in the workplace. Even though the majority of Canadian organizations lack a solid plan for AI adoption, one striking data point from the Work Trend Index shows that 63% of Canadian leaders would hire a less experienced candidate with AI literacy over a more experienced candidate without. And, Canadian job seekers are getting wise to this desire in hiring decisions. In the last 12 months, there has been a 142% increase globally in AI skills like ChatGPT and Copilot added to LinkedIn profiles.

For employees and companies seeing the most benefit from AI, there are some common themes: senior leaders lean in, company culture is change-ready and there are tailored training opportunities to increase adoption and use. Ultimately, those that see AI as an edge versus a threat will be the ones with the greatest advantage.

Canadian Businesses Embracing the Competitive Edge of GenAI

Microsoft customers in Canada are increasingly embracing AI opportunities for business transformation. Organizations like PwC and Softchoice are seeing demonstrable business value impact in areas like customer engagement and internal business processes.

PwC Canada

PwC Canada was among the first Canadian organizations to implement next-generation AI in the form of Copilot for Microsoft 365 across its entire organization of 8,000 people. Alongside the new technology, the company also rolled out an upskilling program for all employees to ensure all employees understand how to use Copilot in their day-to-day work and leverage it to its full potential. The Work Trend Index found that tailored training programs like this were one of the key ways to drive AI adoption and turn skeptics into power users.

This firmwide initiative is part of PwC Canada’s investment of $200M over three years, announced last year, to support business reinvention through generative AI.

Chris Dulny, Chief Digital, Data and Innovation Officer for PwC Canada said, “Our investment in generative AI is a defining step in our transformation journey and will help us further deliver tech-powered solutions that build trust and drive sustained outcomes. By upskilling our people, we will be able to completely transform the way we work with our clients and fully harness the power of generative AI. We will be better positioned to help our clients reinvent their businesses, increase productivity and develop new products and services.”

Softchoice accelerates AI within its workforce

When Softchoice, a Canadian software- and cloud-focused IT solutions provider with more than 2,000 employees across the U.S and Canada, piloted generative AI tools within its workforce, they saw significant immediate productivity gains. Participants of the pilot, who represented teams across the organization, saw a 97% reduction in time spent summarizing technical meetings, a 70% reduction in time spent creating internal training modules and a 62-67% reduction in time spent creating customer-facing technical content.

Implementing generative AI tools including Copilot for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Copilot for Security also offered Softchoice the first-hand experience they need to lead AI adoption for their own customers to reinforce its benefits across job functions.

Andrew Caprara, President & CEO of Softchoice, said, “Softchoice and Microsoft have been empowering our customers for over 30 years. We’re excited about our enhanced partnership, enabling organizations to accelerate their AI journeys and achieve better outcomes securely and confidently.”

Roadmap to Adoption: Embracing AI in Canadian workplaces

In Canadian workplaces, the role of AI continues to grow, driven by both employee initiative and corporate strategy. Yet, organizations and employees still wrestle with the challenges of AI adoption and how to implement the cultural changes needed for successful adoption. Companies like PwC and Softchoice show that the path to successful AI adoption lies in creating a culture of openness and innovation and one where training opportunities prepare employees to use AI responsibly.

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