There has been an increasing buzz around introducing AI-powered tools to the sphere of global mobility over the last few years. Following the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI towards the end of last year, all the AI talk has picked up pace, and not only in our industry. To see what the fuss was about and how well AI knows global mobility, I decided to join the bandwagon and experience it firsthand by having a little chat with ChatGPT.
Let’s start with the basics. What is global mobility?
Global mobility generally refers to the movement of people across borders for work or other purposes, including immigration, international assignments, study abroad programs, and travel for business or personal reasons. Global mobility can involve short-term or long-term relocation, and may require obtaining visas, work permits, or other documentation to legally reside and work in a foreign country.
Global mobility is increasingly important in today's interconnected world, where businesses and individuals seek to expand their reach and explore new opportunities around the globe. This trend has led to a growing demand for global mobility professionals who can help organizations manage the complexities of international mobility, including compliance with immigration laws, tax regulations, and cultural differences.
This is a decent start, although arguably it is a very simplified answer to a very multifaceted topic! I’m sure most people in the industry have struggled to explain to friends and family what it is we deal with every day.
The first question was a warm-up, let’s keep going. How can AI help global mobility?
AI can help global mobility in several ways, including:
Streamlining administrative tasks: AI can automate routine tasks such as visa processing, document management, and expense reporting, which can save time and reduce errors.
Enhancing decision-making: AI can provide insights and recommendations based on data analysis, helping organizations make informed decisions about global mobility policies and practices.
Improving employee experience: AI-powered tools such as chatbots and virtual assistants can provide personalized support and guidance to employees, making their relocation and adjustment to a new country easier and smoother.
Ensuring compliance: AI can monitor and track compliance with immigration laws, tax regulations, and other legal requirements, reducing the risk of noncompliance and associated penalties.
Enabling predictive analytics: AI can analyze data from past global mobility experiences to predict future trends and challenges, helping organizations plan and prepare for potential issues.
Overall, AI has the potential to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and experience of global mobility for both organizations and employees.
It’s getting better – although I will forever challenge the notion of relying only on technology to improve the employee experience. Put your hand up if you’d rather speak to a chatbot than a human being, especially if something’s gone wrong and you need actual assistance! Of course, AI can answer basic questions like, ‘Why has my COLA gone up or down?’; ‘Where is my shipment?’; or, ‘What’s the phone number of my host manager?’ – assuming that it is connected to a system that holds all this information rather than spreadsheets scattered across multiple folders and drives. This does make it quicker for assignees to check things on the go rather than contacting the mobility team and waiting for an answer, which can contribute to a smoother experience. However, companies should be wary of cutting costs in the wrong place and thinking they can get away without humans at the other end.
There’s a lot of talk about technology replacing people’s jobs, and it is natural to be worried about what the future holds for us if computers turn out to be better than us at our roles. Is my global mobility job safe from AI?
It's difficult to predict the future, but in general, it's unlikely that any job is completely safe from the impact of AI and other technological advancements. However, the extent of AI's impact on global mobility jobs may depend on the specific tasks and responsibilities involved in the job.
Some tasks, such as administrative and repetitive tasks, are more likely to be automated by AI, while other tasks that require human skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and relationship-building, may be less susceptible to automation.
In any case, rather than seeing AI as a threat, it's important to see it as a tool that can augment and enhance the work of global mobility professionals. By learning new skills and adapting to new technologies, global mobility professionals can position themselves to be valuable contributors in a rapidly changing field. It's also possible that AI will create new opportunities in global mobility, such as the development of new services or the expansion of existing services to new markets.
This is impressive, and I have to agree with ChatGPT. It is the robotic admin tasks that are most likely to be made redundant by the advanced application of technology, whereas machines are unlikely to beat us when it comes to issues that require thinking outside the box or a sensitive touch; both arguably things that we face on a daily basis. Additionally, I trust it will make many jobs more enjoyable if AI takes care of the repetitive, mundane grind and we can instead focus on the more creative, stimulating tasks.
Given that the AI already recognised its shortfalls above, I had another question: What can’t AI replace in global mobility?
While AI can automate many routine and administrative tasks in global mobility, there are certain aspects of the job that require human skills and judgment that are difficult or impossible to replicate with AI. Here are some examples:
Emotional intelligence: Human beings are inherently emotional creatures, and emotions play a significant role in the relocation process. AI may be able to provide information and guidance, but it cannot replicate the empathy and understanding that a human can offer to someone going through a difficult transition.
Cultural awareness: Global mobility involves working with people from different cultural backgrounds, and understanding and respecting those differences is crucial for success. While AI can provide basic cultural information, it cannot replace the nuanced understanding and sensitivity that comes from human experience and interaction.
Strategic thinking: Global mobility professionals need to be able to think strategically and make decisions based on a range of factors, including business goals, compliance requirements, and employee needs. AI can provide data and insights, but it cannot make strategic decisions on its own.
Communication skills: Effective communication is essential in global mobility, both in terms of providing information and building relationships. While AI can facilitate communication, it cannot replace the human touch that comes from personal interaction.
In short, while AI can augment and enhance the work of global mobility professionals, it cannot replace the human skills and judgment that are essential for success in this field.
I wholeheartedly agree – our skills will very much still be needed in this industry, even if we start to harness the power of AI to assist us. The cases we deal with are often very sensitive (we are talking about moving someone and often their family to a new country!) and it takes specialist care and expert knowledge combined with human touch and sensitivity to navigate them successfully and with grace. ChatGPT also omitted some very obvious things that have to do with our industry, such as the actual relocation part, which I can’t imagine will be automated anytime soon. I don’t see how robots could physically pack up a house without making a mess of it – at least, not yet!
Overall, the potential of AI (and in this case, ChatGPT in particular) is big. However, given how many sensitive and often surprising situations we have to think creatively about every day – which will remain impossible for AI to manage well – global mobility as an industry isn’t going to be made redundant. The pace and potential for upskilling will increase as we make the most of the efficiency gains that growing automation will provide. I believe that utilising AI will contribute to making our work more meaningful, and isn’t having a job with even more purpose a pretty desirable prospect for the future?