Carolyn Frantz - How Could Artificial Intelligence Create New Job Categories and How Can a Company Anticipate These Changes in Workforce Needs and Shape?

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Jan 22, 2019
by Carolyn Frantz
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Carolyn Frantz - How Could Artificial Intelligence Create New Job Categories and How Can a Company Anticipate These Changes in Workforce Needs and Shape?

Microsoft's VP, Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary asks this month's "Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance" Carolyn Frantz at the 2018 meeting of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum

This article is part of the series, the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance by the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. Join in the discussion on LinkedIn

Since the first industrial revolution we’ve seen an ongoing and accelerating impact of technology on jobs: eliminating some jobs, changing how others are done, and creating whole new categories of work. While widespread applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in businesses are just emerging, the impact on jobs is certain. A report from the research firm Forrester projects that by 2027, AI will displace 24.7 million jobs – and create 14.9 million new ones. 

This shift is already under way. In warehouses, some employees who previously stacked bins now monitor robots. In legal environments, paralegals and law clerks now use “e-discovery” software to find documents. In hospitals, machine learning can help doctors diagnose illnesses more quickly. 

But, while AI is changing these jobs, they have not disappeared; there are aspects of the work that simply cannot be automated. 

Many jobs will continue to require uniquely human skills that AI and machines cannot replicate, such as creativity, collaboration, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication, and the ability to work in diverse environments. New jobs – many of them in technology – will emerge as AI changes how work is done. Demand for data scientists, robotics experts and AI engineers will increase significantly. More broadly, technology will significantly impact the skills requirements in all job families.

Employers already face a shortage of critical talent across many industries. As jobs increasingly require technology skills, companies in all sectors have begun to compete for employees with specialized skills such as cybersecurity and data science. 

It is estimated that by 2020, 30% of technology jobs will go unfilled due to talent shortages, and this gap is likely to widen given the time it takes to introduce training programs for new technology skills. The World Economic Forum reports that by 2020, more than a third of the skills needed for most occupations will be ones that are not considered crucial today.

These fundamental changes in the nature of work require new ways of thinking about skills and training to ensure that workers are prepared for the future and that there is sufficient talent available for critical jobs. 

Businesses need to rethink how they find and evaluate talent, broaden the pool of candidates they draw from, and assess competence and skills. Employers will also need to focus more on offering on-the job training, opportunities to acquire new skills, and access to outside education for their existing workforces. And employers will need to forge new collaborations to help education and workforce systems better understand, interpret and anticipate what professional skills they’ll need.

Impact for Boards of Directors

All of these trends highlight a growing opportunity for Boards of Directors and governance professionals to advance strategic approaches to their companies’ human capital management on topics ranging from training to diversity and inclusion. 

Perhaps uncoincidentally, institutional investors are increasingly expecting Boards and companies to demonstrate thoughtful oversight of these topics. 

At Microsoft, our Board, Compensation Committee, and Regulatory and Public Policy Committee engage with the Senior Leadership Team and human resources executives on a regular basis across a broad range of human capital management issues. In particular, the Board works with management to provide oversight on matters including culture, succession planning and development, compensation, benefits, employee recruiting and retention, and diversity and inclusion. 

During this time of rapid and unpredictable change, business leaders and governance professionals should ask themselves how to best drive strategies to ensure their companies and their employees succeed together. How are you leveraging the talents of your management team and board to meet these new workplace challenges? How do you best structure Board responsibilities, processes, and public disclosures to demonstrate good governance of human resource management as it becomes increasingly complex and strategic?

Have an opinion? 

We encourage readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn


Note: This post draws directly from Microsoft’s 2018 book exploring societal issues related to AI, The Future Computed: Artificial Intelligence and its Role in Society


Carolyn Frantz is the vice president, deputy general counsel, and corporate secretary at Microsoft. She previously managed Microsoft’s worldwide tax litigation. Prior to joining Microsoft, she was a litigation Partner at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, as well as a Rhodes Scholar, a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Carolyn earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, her B.A./M.St. in jurisprudence from Oxford University, and her B.A. in philosophy from Wake Forest University.


The Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters, and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich: cehrlich@salzburgglobal.org To receive a notification of when the next article is published, follow Salzburg Global Seminar on LinkedIn or sign up for email notifications here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/corpgov/newsletter