Generative AI - Augmentation Vs. Automation

Generative AI - Augmentation Vs. Automation

Our IT Executive Roundtables are invite-only events hosted by peers for peers that bring together a select group of senior IT leaders from across industries for topic-driven, intimate dialog on current trends and topics. The group met remotely to discuss generative AI; augmentation vs. automation led by the CIO of a leading cybersecurity specialist.

November 27, 2023

The executive roundtable on "Generative AI: Augmentation versus Automation" convened leaders from various sectors to discuss the role of Generative AI (GenAI) in business and society. This discussion focused on the experiences of organizations implementing GenAI, encompassing their successes, challenges, strategies, and the broader societal implications of this technology.  

Key Takeaways

  1. AI's Role in Business and Jobs: The increasing importance of AI in enhancing job roles and business operations, leaning towards augmentation of human capabilities.
  1. Data's Importance in AI Implementation: The criticality of data management, quality, and contextual relevance in effective AI solutions.
  1. Measuring AI Success: The complexity in defining success metrics for AI implementations, with an emphasis on scalability, customer value, and continuous feedback.
  1. GenAI's Potential Impact: The transformative potential of GenAI in operational efficiency, societal functions, and creativity.

AI as a Business Enhancer

Our attendees highlighted the evolving role of AI in business, suggesting that AI's true potential lies in augmenting human capabilities, leading to enhanced creativity and efficiency. This shift towards augmentation, as opposed to mere automation, marks a transformative phase in the role of AI in the workplace. It forecasts a future where AI is seen not just as a tool but as a 'next employee', enriching rather than replacing human efforts.

The group discussed specific industries accelerated by AI, including the role of AI in healthcare. They mentioned how AI could augment tasks like report generation, thereby improving operational efficiency. This approach of AI working alongside humans, enhancing rather than supplanting, underscores a future where AI complements human intelligence, leading to more informed decision-making and innovative solutions.  

The Centrality of Data in AI

The critical role of data in AI implementation was a key theme. One speaker addressed the challenges in data collection, structuring, and ensuring relevance, highlighting the importance of robust data governance practices. These challenges, if not managed correctly, could impede the effectiveness of AI solutions, making data management a pivotal aspect of successful AI integration.

Contextual relevance in AI tools and data is essential. Our attendees pointed out the importance of understanding the purpose of data and creating contextually relevant AI applications. This focus on context and relevance is crucial for scaling AI solutions effectively and mitigating risks associated with data-driven decision-making, especially when scaling operations.

Assessing AI's Implementation Success

When it comes to measuring the success of AI implementations, the need for clear metrics is important, as well as being open to experimentation and learning from failures, indicating a proactive approach in AI experimentation. This mindset is crucial for organizations to remain competitive and innovative in a rapidly evolving AI landscape.

Another key theme focused on by our technology leaders was customer value as a key success metric, advocating for a continuous feedback loop to understand and meet customer needs effectively. They suggested that aligning AI implementations with customer value will speed up business cases, creating a dynamic of rapid innovation and adaptation. This approach underscores the importance of aligning AI strategies with customer-centric outcomes for long-term success.

The Broad Implications of GenAI

The group explored GenAI's potential to address skill shortages, enhance healthcare outcomes, and improve operational efficiency. The balance between automation and augmentation in implementing GenAI was emphasized. While automation can lead to cost savings, augmentation can foster creativity and deliver more value, indicating a dual approach in applying GenAI solutions.

Another key insight was the revolutionary impact of GenAI on business operations and societal norms. The discussion highlighted how GenAI could transform the way people work and learn, indicating a significant shift in societal functions and job roles. This transformative potential of GenAI points towards a future where AI not only enhances business processes but also reshapes societal structures and human interactions.

Polling our Attendees  

The poll asked participants about their organization's progress in GenAI integration:

How far organizations are on its generative AI journey

The poll results revealed varied stages of GenAI adoption across organizations. A significant 42% of attendees were piloting AI projects, indicating an experimental phase in AI integration. Another 25% were experimenting with AI, showcasing an exploratory stage in understanding AI's potential. Implementing AI across functions was noted by 17%, reflecting a more advanced stage of AI integration. 8% reported just starting their AI journey, and another 8% had AI at the core of their operations, showing a foundational role for AI in their organizational strategy. Notably, none of the attendees reported advanced AI integration, suggesting that the field is still in its growth phase with substantial potential for development.

These results indicate a predominantly early-stage adoption of GenAI across various industries, with a focus on experimentation and exploration. The diversity in stages of AI integration reflects the evolving nature of AI technology and the varied approaches organizations are taking to harness its potential.


The roundtable revealed a nuanced perspective on GenAI's role in business and society, highlighting its potential as a tool for augmentation and innovation. As organizations navigate their GenAI journey, the focus on data integrity, scalability, and customer value remains paramount. The discussion underscored the transformative nature of GenAI, poised to reshape not just business operations but also societal norms and job roles in the coming years.

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