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AI set to save professionals 12 hours per week by 2029

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Thomson Reuters' 2024 Future of Professionals report reveals that AI could save knowledge workers up to 12 hours per week by 2029, with an immediate impact of 4 hours per week within the next year. This productivity boost is likened to adding an extra colleague for every 10 team members. U.S. lawyers could see an additional $100,000 in billable hours annually due to AI's time-saving capabilities.

The report, based on a survey of over 2,200 professionals from legal, tax, and risk & compliance sectors, highlights AI's potential to drive innovation and economic growth. Key findings include 77% of respondents believing AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work, and 78% viewing AI as beneficial for their profession. Additionally, 79% anticipate significant innovation improvements in their companies due to AI.

Professionals also express a need for AI standards, with 57% supporting certification processes and 55% advocating for industry-specific guidelines. Currently, 63% of respondents are using AI-powered technologies for tasks like research and drafting, showcasing the growing adoption and positive sentiment towards AI.

Positive
  • AI expected to save professionals up to 12 hours per week by 2029.
  • 4 hours per week of time savings predicted in the next year, equivalent to adding an extra colleague for every 10 team members.
  • Potential $100,000 increase in annual billable hours for U.S. lawyers due to AI.
  • 77% of professionals predict high or transformational impact from AI over the next five years.
  • 78% of respondents view AI as beneficial for their profession.
  • 79% anticipate significant innovation improvements in their companies due to AI.
  • 63% of surveyed professionals are already using AI-powered technologies for tasks like research and drafting.
Negative
  • None.

The Thomson Reuters Future of Professionals report shows knowledge workers are optimistic about significant boosts to productivity, with AI poised to redefine workflows, drive innovation, and unlock new opportunities for growth

  • Critical time savings: Survey respondents predict AI to free up 12 hours per week within the next five years, with four hours per week saved in the next year alone – the equivalent of adding an additional colleague for every 10 team members. For a U.S. lawyer, this could translate to an additional $100,000 in billable hours.*
  • Positive outlook on impacts of AI: 77% of professionals believe AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work over the next five years. Additionally, 78% say AI is a "force for good" in their profession, while 37% of respondents haven't yet used GenAI in their work.
  • Catalyst for innovation: 79% of professionals predict significant or moderate improvement in innovation within their companies over the next five years. Over that same period, they anticipate 56% of work will utilize new AI-powered technology.
  • Strong appetite for AI standards: 57% of professionals believe certification processes for AI systems should be introduced, and 55% believe professional or industry bodies should make their own standards.

TORONTO, July 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Thomson Reuters (TSX/NYSE: TRI), a global content and technology company, today released its 2024 Future of Professionals report, an annual survey of more than 2,200 professionals working across legal, tax, and risk & compliance fields globally.

Respondents predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to save them 12 hours per week in the next five years, or four hours per week over the upcoming year – equating to 200 hours annually. This timesaving potential is the equivalent productivity boost of adding an extra colleague for every 10 team members on staff. Harnessing the power of AI across various professions opens immense economic opportunities. For a U.S. lawyer, this could translate to an estimated $100,000 in additional billable hours.* 

The sharp uptick in interest in AI is a major catalyst for innovation across industries. Overall, 77% of professionals now predict AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work over the next five years, up 10 percentage points from last year. In addition, 79% anticipate innovation at their companies will increase.

"Professionals no longer need to speculate on the potential for AI to impact their work as they are now witnessing its effects firsthand. As we look to the future, one thing is clear: AI-empowered professionals and their companies will outpace those who resist this transformative era," said Steve Hasker, President and CEO, Thomson Reuters. "With professionals predicting that AI will save them up to 200 hours in the next year, the potential economic impact is significant. For a U.S. lawyer, the time saved could translate to up to $100,000 a year in additional billable time, and we can expect similar productivity gains across other professions. The responsible use of AI is crucial, with nearly two-thirds of professionals stressing human oversight. As we navigate this change, we must remember the future of AI is ours to shape."*

This year's study underscores the overwhelming sense of enthusiasm professionals have for AI. AI, and specifically generative AI (GenAI), solutions for the legal, tax, and risk & compliance sectors have been among the most widely adopted categories of professional-grade AI applications to date. In fact, 63% of those surveyed are already using AI-powered technologies as a starting point for tasks, with research, summarization, and drafting cited as the most common use cases.

The report's findings are categorized into three main themes: productivity, responsibility, and value. The following are some of the study's key insights:

Productivity:

  • Key driver of innovation, job growth and improved productivity: The top areas professionals expect to see concrete improvements over the next five years are "more innovation" (79%), "more time spent on engaging, judgement-based or expertise-driven work" (66%), "greater opportunity for continual skill building" (57%), and "improved work-life balance" (51%).
  • AI as top strategic priority for legal profession: Asked to indicate their strategic priorities for the next 18 months, 50% of law firm respondents selected AI in their top five, edging out productivity (49%). The top areas where corporate C-suite respondents anticipate AI will have the biggest impact are operational strategy (59%), product/service strategy (53%), and talent strategy (40%).

Responsibility:

  • AI holdouts seek guidance from their employers: While the majority (63%) of respondents are already using AI-powered technologies as a starting point for tasks, 37% of those surveyed have not tried the technology in their work. Among the top reasons for staying on the sidelines, 35% are unsure what type of work the technology can be used for and 28% are unsure how to access it.
  • Responsible use of AI is crucial: The vast majority (95%) of professionals agree it's a step too far to allow AI to represent clients in court or make final decisions on complex legal, tax and risk, fraud & compliance matters. Areas where professionals are more comfortable with AI include drafting basic documents, research and analysis, and basic administrative tasks. A majority (57%) of respondents say certification processes for AI systems should be introduced, and 55% believe professional or industry bodies should be tasked with developing these standards.

Value:

  • AI and data to have transformational impact on professional services: When asked the impact of various trends over the next five years, respondents overwhelmingly identified "the rise of AI and GenAI" as having the greatest impact (77% predicting high or transformational impact), followed by "explosion in data volumes" (59%).
  • Positive market sentiment and transformative potential: Professionals view AI as a "force for good" (78%), recognizing its potential to enhance efficiency and bring new value to their work. With widespread adoption, we could see AI drive significant innovation, improve work-life balance, and provide substantial economic benefits over the next five years.

To access the full report, visit https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/c/future-of-professionals.html

Methodology

Research was conducted in April and May 2024 via an online survey. More than 2,200 professionals from the legal, tax and accounting, and risk & compliance fields employed by corporations, firms, and government agencies completed the survey. Approximately 44% of participants were based in the United States, with the majority of other respondents in the UK, Canada, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Most of the respondents were in traditional roles, meaning those in the legal industry were lawyers, those in the tax and accounting industry were accountants and CPAs; in addition, respondents included 200 corporate C-suite professionals. From a generational perspective, the largest number of respondents represented Millennials (those born between 1981-1996), followed by Gen X (those born between 1965-1980), and Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964), and Gen Z (those born between 1997-2012). A handful of respondents represented the Silent Generation (born prior to 1946).

* Professionals predict that AI could save them four hours a week in the next year and up to 12 hours per week within the next five years. Thomson Reuters extrapolated this to demonstrate the potential annual impact. Assuming a professional works 48 to 50 weeks per year, this could result in up to 200 hours saved annually and is equivalent to adding an extra colleague for every 10 team members, as the four hours saved per week per professional represents approximately 10% of a full-time workload. For U.S. lawyers, that time savings could translate to nearly $100,000 in extra billable time annually. This is calculated with Thomson Reuters data gathered directly from participating firms' financial management systems, which is then anonymized and aggregated. Ultimately, the way lawyers choose to reinvest their time savings will depend on their individual priorities and goals, which may include increasing billable time, pursuing new business opportunities, or other strategic initiatives.

Note to Editor

Thomson Reuters – Investing in Artificial Intelligence: 

Thomson Reuters is at the forefront of delivering professional-grade AI in the fields of legal, tax, accounting, risk, fraud, compliance, and news. Thomson Reuters is delivering this through its build, partner, buy strategy, and last year, announced its intention to make a Thomson Reuters is at the forefront of delivering professional-grade AI in the fields of legal, tax, accounting, risk, fraud, compliance, and news. Thomson Reuters is delivering this through its build, partner, buy strategy, and last year, announced its intention to make an additional investment of more than $100 million annually for the next few years, integrating responsible AI into its flagship content and technology solutions. 

Key AI milestones include: 

With thousands of colleagues employed in the field of data science, engineering, designers and UX specialists and analysts, Thomson Reuters provides trusted and secure GenAI experience for its customers. The company's generative AI capabilities are built on 30 years of advancements in machine learning and natural language processing technology and over 125 years of professional expertise. This is all underpinned by a comprehensive collection of editorially-enhanced content. 

The company's commitment to AI is also reflected in the comprehensive governance structures it has in place exampled by its updated Data and AI Ethics Principles, which guides its approach to AI development and deployment. With a focus on responsibility, safety, and transparency, Thomson Reuters is dedicated to creating AI solutions that not only augment professional capabilities but also adhere to the highest ethical standards. 

Thomson Reuters is also investing in AI learning and development programs for its 26,000 colleagues globally, delivering ongoing training and access to technology built in alignment with its AI and Data Principles. In addition, the organization also created Distinguished Scientist and Engineering pathways to ensure Labs colleagues can continue to grow in their careers as they help grow TR's solutions. 

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters (TSX/NYSE: TRI) ("TR") informs the way forward by bringing together the trusted content and technology that people and organizations need to make the right decisions. The company serves professionals across legal, tax, accounting, compliance, government, and media. Its products combine highly specialized software and insights to empower professionals with the data, intelligence, and solutions needed to make informed decisions, and to help institutions in their pursuit of justice, truth, and transparency. Reuters, part of Thomson Reuters, is a world-leading provider of trusted journalism and news. For more information, visit tr.com

Media Contact

Lindsay Bomar
Lindsay.Bomar@thomsonreuters.com

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SOURCE Thomson Reuters

FAQ

What impact will AI have on professionals according to the Thomson Reuters report?

The Thomson Reuters report predicts AI will save professionals up to 12 hours per week by 2029 and drive significant innovation across various fields.

How much time can AI save professionals in the next year?

AI is expected to save professionals 4 hours per week in the next year, equating to an additional colleague for every 10 team members.

What financial benefit could U.S. lawyers see from AI according to the report?

The report suggests that U.S. lawyers could see an additional $100,000 in billable hours annually due to AI's time-saving capabilities.

What percentage of professionals believe AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work?

According to the report, 77% of professionals believe AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work over the next five years.

What is the general sentiment towards AI among professionals surveyed in the Thomson Reuters report?

The report indicates that 78% of surveyed professionals view AI as a 'force for good' in their profession.

How many professionals are currently using AI-powered technologies according to the report?

The report states that 63% of professionals are already using AI-powered technologies for tasks such as research, summarization, and drafting.

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