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More Canadians are using generative AI tools at work

By Adam Freill   

Construction Leadership Skills Development Software

KPMG survey on Canada's adoption of generative artificial intelligence indicates the tools drive both quality and productivity gains.

Using generative AI tools at work contributes to productivity. (CNW Group/KPMG LLP)

Canadians are increasingly using generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools at work, with nearly a quarter saying they now use the technology to help them do their jobs, finds new research from KPMG in Canada.

The accounting and tax services firm’s latest Generative AI Adoption survey of 4,515 Canadians found that not only are the number of Canadians using the tool growing, but those who use it are doing so more frequently than even six months ago. More than six in 10 generative AI users now use the technology multiple times a week for work purposes, up from five in 10 in May. One in five Canadians say they are using generative AI daily.

“The incredible speed of adoption after just one year of being introduced to the general public shows how generative AI has not only revolutionized the way people work, but it’s supercharged the speed of technology innovation as well, with breakthroughs happening at a much faster rate,” stated Seamus Blackmore, a partner at KPMG in Canada and Toronto-based product leader in Lighthouse, the firm’s emerging technology practice.

“Many generative AI systems have already evolved from large language models to being multi-modal systems, meaning they create content from photos or voice commands rather than just text prompts,” he explained. “For business leaders, it’s imperative to keep up with this rapidly evolving technology, understand how it could affect their business, and adapt their strategies accordingly if they want to compete.”


Blackmore noted that adoption of the tool in the workplace is growing at an annualized growth rate of 32 per cent, which suggests that half of all Canadian workers could be using it within three years.

“When the tool first became available, workers were experimenting with it to see what it could do and if it could help them work smarter. Our survey clearly shows that generative AI has become a key resource for many Canadian professionals, with more than nine in 10 users saying it improves their work, and seven in 10 saying it’s essential to managing their workload,” he said.

KPMG created Canada’s first-ever Generative AI Adoption Index to measure the intensity by which Canadians are using generative AI tools in the workplace, with the goal of understanding and analyzing the risks and benefits of the technology to organizations and society.

The Index now stands at 14.6, reflecting a 28 per cent growth rate since May 2023, when KPMG introduced the metric. A score of 100 indicates mass adoption.

With generative AI uptake among Canada’s labour force growing over the past six months, trends are emerging on how employees are using the technology at work. Users are more diligent about checking the accuracy of content generated by AI, and they’re more transparent with their employers about their use of the tools.

Of those surveyed, 77 per cent said their employers know they use generative AI at work; 55 per cent always check the accuracy of information produced by generative AI; 90 per cent say the tools have enhanced the quality of their professional work; and 76 per cent say using generative AI tools has allowed them to take on additional work that they would not have had the capacity to take on.

Blackmore said that as generative AI matures, more users are learning how to harness its benefits, leading to increased productivity.

“Since generative AI was introduced to the general public one year ago with the release ChatGPT, users have become more knowledgeable about how to make effective prompts, which in turn yields better results more quickly – and they probably have an edge at work because they’re saving more time as a result,” he stated.

More than three-quarters of users surveyed stated that they rely on publicly available generative AI tools to help with their work tasks, while the other quarter use private generative AI tools, built exclusively by their employers.

Interestingly, employees using private AI platforms for work are experiencing higher productivity gains than those using publicly available tools. Just over half of users who rely on private tools said they save more than three hours of work each week, compared to 40 per cent using publicly available platforms.

Marc Low, a Vancouver-based director at KPMG Ignition, the firm’s innovation lab, said the recent proliferation of bespoke enterprise generative AI platforms is making it easier for organizations to implement their own systems as they become more accessible, cheaper and more powerful.

“We’re likely to see more organizations adopting private generative AI systems as access to customizable tools continues to expand – and the more employees use these tools, the more they will reap the benefits,” he stated.

Low said many organizations are interested in adopting private generative AI systems but suggested they hesitate to jump in because they are overwhelmed by the number of new tools entering the market, frequent technology updates and the constantly changing dynamics of the market.

“There’s a lot of noise around generative AI. For business leaders, it can lead to serious FOMO [fear of missing out] and the desire to jump in quickly in an effort to keep up with competitors, but that can lead to poor decisions and wasted investments,” he said.

He suggests organizations do a thorough assessment of how generative AI will impact their operations, and then identify a part of the business where they can experiment and test the technology in a structured way. He also recommends organizations explore a range of generative AI tools and use cases to test and validate impact, value and uptake.

“Adopting generative AI because it’s the latest trend or because everyone else is doing it is not a sound business strategy,” he advised. “Organizations need to be intentional about generative AI; define why it’s needed, where it will have the greatest impact, and how to measure improvements in productivity and competitiveness to ensure return on investment.”




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