AI Literacy is one of the five trends identified by the Communications Trend Radar 2024. This management trend addresses the cognitive, affective, and socio-cultural skills needed to interact with artificial intelligence in everyday life, including communication work.
Rapid advances in AI-based technologies are revolutionizing communication practices within societies, organizations, and among individuals. New competencies are required at all levels and for all roles involved in communication processes within organizations and with their stakeholders.
Growing relevance of AI in everyday life
AI-based technologies are already permeating many aspects of everyday life, including communications work. Unlike traditional technologies, AI-based systems have a higher degree of autonomy and adapt dynamically. As a result, understanding how AI works and interpreting its results can be challenging, especially when combined with skepticism and reluctance to engage with AI.
The development of new competencies is crucial for the effective and ethical use of AI-based technologies, whether in everyday life, or in work environments. These include cognitive, affective, and sociocultural skills:
- Cognitive: Understanding fundamental concepts such as machine learning.
- Affective: Feeling empowered to participate with confidence in the digital world.
- Sociocultural: Being aware of ethical issues and other implications of AI-supported communication beyond the direct realm of communicators and recipients.
Learning about AI and AI-based technologies is an ongoing effort, and AI literacy will change in tandem with the current state of the art in AI research and practice.
AI Literacy is about the increasing importance of cognitive, affective, and sociocultural skills for dealing with artificial intelligence in everyday life.
Relevance of AI literacy for corporate communications
Rapidly evolving technologies based on AI, such as ChatGPT, are already transforming the communication practices of societies, organizations, and individuals. Examples of AI-based technology use cases in corporate communications include
- Monitoring and analyzing stakeholder communication: Trend analyses, reputation management, stakeholder analysis, crisis monitoring (e.g., provided by Meltwater, Cision).
- Editing and creating text: Translation, feedback on grammar, and writing style (e.g., DeepL,Grammarly).
- Creating visual content: Presentations, images, videos, and designs (e.g., Canva, designs.ai).
- Obtaining general support: Idea generation, creating drafts, supporting project management, and training (e.g., ChatGPT)
Even before adopting an AI-based technology within a company, employees are likely to form opinions about AI (e.g., due to media reports, pop culture). Skepticism, fear, or a lack of self-confidence can influence subsequent behavioral responses to the introduction of a new AI-based technology in the workplace (e.g., the intention to use AI).
An AI-literate workforce is better equipped to navigate the wealth of AI applications, make strategic choices for integrating AI-based technologies into their daily work, and ensure that AI-based technologies are used effectively and responsibly.
Resources for developing AI literacy
One noticeable resource was developed by the Finnish consultancy MinnaLearn and the University of Helsinki. Their series “Elements of AI” covers the basics of AI, including applications, machine learning, neural networks, and potential impacts. It is available in English as well as in many languages spoken in Europe and globally (e.g., French, German, and Spanish).
Recommendations for communication leaders and professionals
- Start by improving your own AI literacy. Understanding the potentials and pitfalls of AI-based technologies is essential for making strategic decisions about and supporting the integration of AI-based systems in corporate communications.
- Identify the current and developing levels of AI literacy of those communicating on behalf of your business (including your team, top management and other decision-makers, other employees, prospective hires) and important audiences.
- Allocate resources for employees to explore and experiment with AI-based technologies. While learning takes time, many AI-based technologies can ultimately enhance employee productivity and effectiveness.
- Initiate or support initiatives to increase the AI literacy of important internal and external stakeholders. Communicators can only profit from digital technologies if those addressed by AI-driven content are willing to use and able to interpret it.
- Listen to questions, needs, and concerns about AI-driven communication practices among communicators, other members of the organization, and external stakeholders.
About the study
For the fourth year running, a research team from the University of Potsdam (Prof. Dr. Stefan Stieglitz and Sünje Clausen, MSc) and Leipzig University (Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfaß and Dr Michelle Wloka) conducted an applied research project to identify trends likely to influence communication practices in the near future. They analyzed hundreds of scientific articles, conference contributions, reports and online publications. These were systematically collected, weighted according to their importance for corporate communication and condensed into five trends. The Communications Trend Radar is funded by the Academic Society for Management & Communication.