what challenges and opportunities for companies in 2023?

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Nicolas Rauber, Head of Coding & Digital Innovation at IIM

A graduate of the 1st class of IIM in 2000, Nicolas Rauber held the position of technical and innovation director in digital and creative agencies for 20 years. He returned to IIM in 2020 as head of education for the coding & digital innovation axis.

The IIM is a school that was born with the Internet for the general public in 1995. It now welcomes more than 2,100 students, who are trained in new digital professions.

What is the state of the digitalization of companies at the start of 2023?

It varies according to many factors, depending on the size of the companies, their implementation, whether they have a national or international dimension, their sector of activity… But the general feeling that prevails is that this digitalization of companies is progressing fast. The pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, and for several months we have seen a veritable tsunami with AI, which is currently coming back to the fore.

Precisely, let’s talk about artificial intelligence and in particular the current boom around ChatGPT: what is your view on this subject? Are we witnessing a real revolution?

Artificial intelligence is a fad because it is a subject that we often talk about. It has been around for a long time with performances that have evolved over the years. GPT-3, which was based on an existing one with a more open approach, entered the market. Last summer, we saw a massive buzz around visual generative AI with tools like Midjourney, and in recent weeks, the explosion around the use of ChatGPT.

We are in the process of crossing a threshold, just like 25 years ago, when we moved from multimedia to the Internet. But beware, we cannot really say that we are witnessing a revolution. Artificial intelligence has been technically building for a while. There is a real difference between technology, which we already had at the time, and innovation.

OpenAI has been brilliant in designing an extremely easy to use and accessible product. Everyone was able to test it very quickly and felt like they could easily generate content (text, image, video, etc.) from an AI.

How to analyze this phenomenon around ChatGPT, and more generally the rise of generative AI? Can we speak of a threat or an opportunity for companies?

We were able to observe its very rapid adoption within the mores of the general public, who understood its full potential. Same observation on the side of the professional sphere: ChatGPT helps the companies that use it by saving them time on a certain number of tasks. Even if the OpenAI tool arouses both fear and fascination about the possible performance of generative AI, it is found today in all areas: social networks, video games, search engines ( Google, Bing), and even PowerPoint…

We should therefore continue to benefit from the many uses offered by this type of AI, but we must not hide the reality behind it. This phenomenon notably calls into question the perception of a certain part of the population, which wonders if creativity can still remain a human responsibility. We have to be careful about this.

What are the challenges for companies in terms of artificial intelligence?

The main challenge for companies lies in the dependence on this type of tool. If AI-powered solutions already exist in graphics or development, for example, should we take what AI produces at face value, or will we be able to bring our expert eye to going to challenge these tools? Because the risk is very present: are we doomed to become dependent and fall into a certain intellectual laziness, by letting ourselves be influenced by the machine, which is terribly efficient and powerful?

But how can future digital professionals adapt to these new uses while taking into account their limits?

For our IIM students who are moving towards digital professions, as for working professionals, it is a question of imposing a certain discipline and a critical sense, or acquiring this type of skill, in order to question the results produced by generative AIs. My conviction: it is imperative to succeed in keeping one’s free will and a certain acuity vis-à-vis the productions provided by AI-based tools. They have many limitations, whether at the level of the knowledge base or their mode of reasoning.

Even if the results offered are impressive and ChatGPT gives the feeling of knowing everything about everything, you have to take your answers as suggestions, continue to ask yourself questions because the human must remain the pilot of the machine, and not the reverse.

What are the job opportunities in the field of artificial intelligence?

There is not one trend that stands out in particular: all trades will be accelerated thanks to AI. Full stack developers already use the GitHub Copilot tool, UX/UI designers can rely on ChatGPT or Figma plugins to make their job easier. We will find AI in certain types of professions in tension, in particular in the management of data in companies. All our courses at IIM integrate artificial intelligence in order to support our students towards these new opportunities available to them.

What skills are needed for a career in jobs that require mastery of AI?

Within our Coding & Digital Innovation axis at IIM, in addition to development courses, our specific lessons in AI allow our students to fully understand how it works. Beyond technical skills, such as mastering Photoshop or the PHP language for example, soft skills represent an essential foundation for being able to translate user problems into solutions and code.

Human qualities, such as the ability to work in a team, listening or even non-verbal understanding during exchanges, are essential for profiles such as a product owner, a digital project manager or a software architect. These are skills that a machine will take a very long time to acquire.

How do you train students in these skills to put them in the best conditions to meet the needs of companies?

We train versatile students, with skills in video games, 3D animation, digital communication, digital creation and coding. They are both curious and agile, but also able to adapt to changes, such as those brought by artificial intelligence. During their course at IIM, they acquire a global digital spectrum, with the possibility of specializing in a field. We provide them with the technical and human background necessary to meet the needs of companies.

What are the specificities of the pedagogy taught by the IIM?

Our teaching method is based on the realization of many projects, which is part of the DNA of the IIM. We place our students in situations as close as possible to the professional world. With our project grants, companies, organizations or municipalities challenge them on concrete issues they encounter.

Students work in groups on these projects from A to Z in the 2nd and 3rd year, and they benefit from the lessons of professional speakers, who themselves experience the evolutions of the digital sphere and AI on a daily basis. And they also have the possibility of carrying out their work-study program in year 3 to apply their knowledge and quickly become operational on the job market.

On the AI ​​side, we are organizing a hackathon for the Coding & Digital Innovation sector next March. The goal for our students: to carry out a project with generative AIs while being able to differentiate ChatGPT prompts and being able to connect the GPT-3 API to integrate it into a business process.

Training in digital professions with IIM