Skip to main content

Artificial Intelligence and Global Mobility: The Case for Cautious Optimism

If you’re anything like me, then you’d have spent too much time over the past few months asking ChatGPT to answer somewhat ludicrous questions (“What are the odds that an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters could complete the entire works of Shakespeare?” and been blown away by the answers (anyone else? Just me?).

ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, and other AI being released as you read this, appears to have revolutionary capabilities with the potential to disrupt every area of our lives. Whether it’s the ability to pass medical exams, write letters to get us off the hook for parking tickets, or even write convincing, if not always hilarious, comedy skits we are certainly witness to a generation of AI which far surpasses previous iterations.

And with increasing debate about the potential of AI to replace whole swathes of existing tasks and even jobs, and with the industry increasingly coming into regulators crosshairs, how might we think about AI as Global Mobility professionals?

Well naturally, I asked ChatGPT who told me:

As the world becomes more interconnected, the demand for global mobility is on the rise. People are moving across borders for work, education, and personal reasons at an unprecedented rate. With this growth, the potential for AI to transform the global mobility industry is becoming more apparent.

On the one hand, AI can make the global mobility process smoother, more efficient, and less stressful for everyone involved. AI tools can help with visa applications, transportation arrangements, and language translation. They can also provide real-time updates on flight delays, weather conditions, and other travel-related issues, making it easier for people to navigate unfamiliar territory.

But while AI has the potential to revolutionise global mobility, we must also approach this technology with caution. We need to be mindful of the potential risks and unintended consequences that come with relying too heavily on AI.

For example, there is a risk that AI could exacerbate existing inequalities in the global mobility system. AI tools may be less effective for people from marginalised communities who may have less access to technology or who may face language barriers that AI tools cannot overcome.

Additionally, there is a risk that AI could undermine the human connection that is so important in the global mobility process. While AI can provide valuable information and support, it cannot replace the human touch that is necessary to build trust, empathy, and understanding.

Finally, we need to consider the ethical implications of using AI in the global mobility industry. For example, there may be concerns around privacy and data security, particularly when it comes to sensitive personal information like immigration status or medical records.

In conclusion, while AI has the potential to transform the world of global mobility, we need to approach this technology with caution. We must be mindful of the potential risks and unintended consequences that come with relying too heavily on AI. By doing so, we can ensure that AI is used in a way that supports, rather than undermines, the human connection that is so important in the global mobility process.

I’d say that’s a fair answer. The good news is that whilst AI has been used for some time to augment or enhance the work of Global Mobility professionals, there is the important human connection element that is not being met by existing AI so far. What is therefore most remarkable about this latest development is that had I not said it was written by ChatGPT, you could easily have been forgiven for thinking it was written by me. It is therefore argued by many that it passes the famous “Turing Test” whereby a machine exhibits intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Whether or not it’s quite there yet, there is clearly reason to be both very excited and somewhat nervous about the potential of AI.

I think that as Global Mobility professionals, we should be cautiously optimistic. AI, if used properly, has the potential to transform and improve the lives of assignees and Global Mobility professionals. Here are three thoughts on how we could prepare to exploit AI:

  1. Big Data = Big Opportunities: as Global Mobility professionals, we are sitting on lots of valuable data which all too often goes unexploited. If we were to train AI on this data, we could readily be sitting on a goldmine of insights. For example, we could use AI to identify where skill gaps are (or where they may arise in the future) and identify the right talent profile to fill the gap, compare the performance of mobile vs. non-mobile employees using the historic HR Information System performance data to discover which types of deployments are most impactful for the organisation and employees, and to make data-led predictions on deployment success for the future. However, AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained upon. It is crucial to ensure that the data used to train AI models is sufficiently voluminous, accurate, relevant and free from bias.

  2. AI loves the repetitive, administrative tasks that we often don’t: much of the work performed by Global Mobility functions is high-volume, repetitive and administrative in nature (form filling, assignment letters/contracts, cost projections etc.), which drains resources that could be deployed toward more strategic and high-impact business-partnering activities. AI is perfectly poised to perform these high-volume, low-impact tasks more efficiently, freeing up Global Mobility professionals to focus on more complex and strategic work. Do you know what higher value work your GM professionals could be doing if the burden of administrative task was alleviated by AI?

  3. Use AI to drive employee experience: AI, if used adroitly, could help to improve the employee experience by providing personalised recommendations and support. For example, AI could recommend housing options based upon employee preference and budget or provide real-time translation services for employees in new locations. Again, it is important to caution that AI is best used to augment rather than replace the “human touch”. Navigating the world of new AI products and integrating them with enterprise software is challenging. Do you have a strategy for staying abreast of the third-party vendor landscape and latest developments in this field?

In short, while there is a lot of noise about AI, it is important to sift through this to come to a pragmatic position. Yes, it will increasingly change what we do and the way we do it. However, in an industry as human-centric as Global Mobility, it should be considered as a tool that helps us, rather than replaces us, and as ChatGPT told us “we need to approach this technology with caution.”

We cannot afford to ignore AI any longer – we as Global Mobility professionals have an opportunity to master an extremely powerful tool that can deliver untold benefits to our Global Mobility function, our employees’ experience and even our careers. Neither burying our heads in the sand nor trying to crowbar AI into every aspect of our programme are viable options. Rather, we should ask ourselves “how can I judiciously use AI to exploit my data, automate repetitive, low-value tasks and drive a world-class employee experience?” Perhaps a good starting point is to ask ChatGPT this question (maybe after it’s answered the “infinite Monkey / Shakespeare” one first!).

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey