AI is expected to be a game changer for white collar jobs, with professional services being one of the sectors which is already seeing the potential for major transformation.
Thomson Reuters is keeping track on how professionals themselves perceive AI’s potential uses in their respective industries. From legal to tax services, the expectations are high, so much so that some segments within the sector can’t help but feel anxious and even concerned about the changes to come.
NSAM spoke with Adrián Fognini, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters in Latin America. Mr. Fognini shared and provided color to some of Thomson Reuters’ findings from its latest Future of Professionals Report, in which AI holds center stage.
Aside from that, the following conversation covers other topics related to the firm’s findings for Latin America specifically, its experience operating in the region and its plans to expand its footprint further in it.
NSAM: In your latest Future of Professionals Report, did you notice any substantial difference between the expectations for AI expressed across the board and those expressed specifically by professionals in LATAM?
Adrián Fognini: Over a third (67%) of professionals surveyed for the report expect the arrival of AI in general and generative AI in particular to have a deep or even transformative impact in their professions over the next five years.
This is felt stronger in Latin America, where professionals expect a deeper impact coming from each macro-trend [beyond AI]. In the region, 55% predict that AI will be transformative (the highest level of impact), compared to the overall average of 34%.
Latin American professionals expect changes and seem to be more receptive to AI adoption in comparison to their colleagues in other countries (Canada, US and UK). They seem to carry a more realistic outlook, though. Latin Americans surveyed seemed more conscious of the new skills and mindsets needed to embrace AI’s potential.
About 87% of Latin American professionals believe that AI will bring new challenges (in contrast with the global average of 66%). In particular, they recognize that there will be a steeper learning curve: 27% of Latin Americans mentioned that they expect challenges, compared to the global average of 20%.
NSAM: The report mentions an increase in the relevance of tech consulting services. How would you characterize that market in Latin America?
Adrián Fognini: In a context as dynamic and complex as Latin America’s, these sorts of consulting services have a need for technological development “by design”, from the origin. In other words, professionals at firms and corporate departments need to have an understanding of technology that isn’t necessarily technical, but certainly strategic. This will allow them to act with precision and assertiveness in their more complex points. Technological vision isn’t a stage separate from professional services, but a skill within its development as a whole.
NSAM: Several analysis firms have pointed to a crowding of the tech consulting and digital transformation markets. Would you say this segment of the market has grown saturated?
Adrián Fognini: AI will help us unlock a potential that goes beyond what we can imagine, transforming whole industries: from the ways we operate to the very content of our work.
[In Latin America], professionals expect a deeper impact coming from each macro-trend [beyond AI]
Demand for consulting services is expected to remain high, while also being transformed. This will lead to professionals redefining what it means to act as a consultant. Consulting firms must consider the new forms of value delivery that will be created and demanded, anticipating the transformations to come.
NSAM: Everyone’s having trouble finding the right talent to fill tech jobs, particularly the more specialized ones. What has been Thomson Reuters’ experience hunting for tech talent in Latin America?
Adrián Fognini: We’ve been quite successful in the expansion of our regional tech staff. In May 2021, we opened a Global Center in Mexico City, which is focused on the acquisition of talent that provides support to optimize operations and quality of service. We have hired over 1,000 employees in only two years, and we currently have nearly 200 open positions.
The region has also shown outstanding results in our TR Labs initiative. We are hiring applied machine learning scientists and senior applied machine learning scientists in the region to build this advanced core which provides support to our organization and to our clients through applied research and the development of new products and technologies.
Demand for consulting services is expected to remain high, while also being transformed. This will lead to professionals redefining what it means to act as a consultant
We’ve been successful in our strategy to attract and form talent by offering a global learning environment and ample opportunities for development.
NSAM: You have quite a number of offices in Latin America. Any plans to expand further in the region?
Adrián Fognini: Latin America is a region of great importance for Thomson Reuters’ global strategy. We continue with our investment for growth in the region, seeking to accelerate digitalization of the economy through the industries we serve regionally.
NSAM: What do you look for in a city or a country when you’re planning for expansion?
Adrián Fognini: Latin America is a region with specific dynamics and complexities, while also having a high capacity of response to invested resources and challenges presented.
In this context, Mexico is among the key countries for our expansion, particularly in the northern part of Latin America. It has the geographic and geopolitical conditions, plus a focus in an open market for foreign trade, as well as a high demand and adoption of technologies among Mexican professionals and corporations.
NSAM: Thomson Reuters is going through its own process of technological transformation. Has the organization leveraged the technological capabilities of Latin America to push this process forth? Either in its Latin American offices or in other locations, such the US, Europe or Asia.
Adrián Fognini: For sure. Latin America is quite a valuable market for the consolidation of Thomson Reuters as the main technological partner of businesses when it comes to digital transformation. We’ve seen constant growth in our headcount, market share and commercial results. Today, we have over 4,000 employees attending 50,000 clients in the region.
These are but the basis of a journey that we expect to be even longer and transformative.