Deloitte: Businesses should brace for worker-led AI disruption

11 October 2023 3 min. read

The gulf between Australian businesses and the next generation of workers on the use of generative AI technology is rapidly growing wider according to a new survey report compiled by Deloitte.

A new study from professional services firm Deloitte has determined that more than one quarter of the Australian economy faces imminent and significant disruption due to generative AI – calculated to be equivalent to almost $600 billion worth of upended economic activity.

Yet, so far, only 1.4 percent of all Australian businesses and less than 10 percent of the country’s larger employers have officially adopted the rapidly emerging technology.

The share of employees first using Gen AI is increasing every month

“Leaders like me need to accept that this is real and recognise that our role is to harness and guide the responsible application of generative AI, rather than turning a blind eye or resisting change by banning its use,” stated Deloitte CEO Adam Powick. “We need to rapidly educate ourselves on the potential and implications of generative AI in our settings and actively encourage adoption, innovation and the sharing of ideas and concepts across our organisations.”

Co-developed by Deloitte Access Economics and the Deloitte AI Institute, the “Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come!” report surveyed more than 2,500 individuals on their current usage, including 500-plus students and 2,000 workers across 18 industries. According to the findings, the former group is almost twice as likely to use GenAI tools than those currently in employment, at a total rate of 58 percent compared to a little under one third of workers.

Deloitte Access Economics’ partner John O’Mahony noted that the difference in adoption rates between students and established workers prompted the ‘GenAI’ report title.

“It speaks volumes – businesses need to prepare for this new generation of AI users – tech-savvy young people who are using Gen AI regularly to study, live and work better. They will no doubt change the way work gets done and test how emerging technology can transform businesses from within.”

Concerns about Gen AI risks

A further notable finding was that of the 32 percent of workers who were already using GenAI in the workplace in some capacity, around two thirds believed their managers were still unaware such tools had been used. In addition, Deloitte points to a previous international study which currently ranks Australia second-last out of fourteen leading economies on its business deployment of Gen AI, despite there now being more than 3,000 tools available.

“Individuals naturally embrace tech faster than business – but Gen AI has seen this happen faster than ever before, broadening the gap between a business and its workforce,” said Deloitte AI Institute leader Kellie Nuttall, who was recently appointed national head of strategy & business design. “Yes, this leads to a disruptive threat; but it leads to an even bigger opportunity. Let’s not forget businesses are made up of lots of individuals, each with the power to disrupt.”

Gen AI Digital Disruption Map

In addition to the survey, Deloitte’s analysts mapped the local industries expected to face the most immediate and profound “short fuse, big bang” disruption from GenAI, which alongside ICT and media, finance and education included the professional services domain. This is in part due to being commonly attractive sectors for the younger cohort who have already embraced AI tools, with daily user numbers forecast to double over the next five years.