AI and the workplace

04 October 2022

Chris Ford
Head of Growth Equities


Background on AI in the workplace


The reality is some companies will engage and others will not.

China has outstripped the US in PhD production for some time but this continues apace. China is doing all it can to become the world leader in AI; it is doubling down on investment in this space. Some countries (e.g. Holland) are actually reducing funding for AI research.

AI in the workplace makes a huge difference, even in areas like food production. For example, if you look at dairy herds, for cattle that require treatment, a human vet will typically administer antibiotics for an average of 4 days; for herds monitored by AI, this drops to below a day.

AI can also significantly improve low-quality or low-res images in healthcare applications; our play on this in the Fund is Siemens Healthineers.

How businesses have reacted to AI


This is where the rubber hits the road; the companies that know that AI is important also tend to know what they want to do about it. By contrast, companies that are passive about AI tend not to have a well-developed AI strategy. If you believe AI and AI pioneers matter, that is where one should look to invest. If you think AI doesn’t matter, you should invest in companies that are passive about AI. You do however need to have a view; being on the wrong side is likely to be painful. There is a large group of companies who are not engaged with AI; some will get there in time, others will not.


AI leaders and laggards

Industrial services, consumer services and financial services are all engaging with (as is tech of course). Healthcare engagement with AI is high in parts of the sector.

Extractive industries are much less engaged with AI although unlike five years ago there aren’t vast blackspots across entire industries – all sectors are getting involved in some way in AI.

Barriers to engagement


A lot depends on corporate culture; if you don’t perceive the need for AI you are unlikely to try and engineer a solution that utilises it.

In investment management, AI will eventually be used more or less everywhere; this could happen in the next 10 years or the next 20. But it will become commonplace.

What next for AI in the workplace

Learn more about Sanlam Global Artificial Intelligence Fund


Fund Risks

The Fund may invest in  shares of companies listed on stock exchanges in the United Kingdom, and outside the United Kingdom, exchange rate fluctuations may cause the value of investments to go down as well as up. Investing in companies based in emerging markets may involve additional risks due to greater political, economic, regulatory risks, among other factors. The Fund may invest in derivatives for the purposes of efficient portfolio management and hedging. 

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