Amid global layoffs and the increased adoption of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, Arvind Krishna, Chief Executive Officer, IBM (International Business Machine Corporation) on Tuesday said the company expects to freeze hiring for job roles that can be easily replaced by artificial intelligence.

In an interview with a global news organisation, Krishna said hiring in back-office operations such as human resources and for mundane tasks such as providing employment verification letters would either be suspended or the hiring for such job roles will be frozen. This means that 7,800 job roles will be impacted. The company currently has a workforce of 2.6 lakh employees globally. Krishna's statement comes months after the software behemoth laid off 3,900 employees across its Kyndryl business and Watson Health units in January this year.

In the first quarter of CY23, IBM’s revenue from operations stood at $14.3 billion. The company’s software and consulting revenue was up 6% and 8% respectively, at constant currency. In the first quarter, the company generated net cash from operating activities of $3.8 billion, up $0.5 billion year to year. Net cash from operating activities, excluding IBM Financing receivables was $1.8 billion. IBM's free cash flow was $1.3 billion, up $0.1 billion year to year.

“Our first quarter results demonstrate that clients continue turning to IBM for our unique combination of an open hybrid cloud platform, enterprise-focused AI, and business expertise to unlock productivity and drive efficiency in their operations,” Krishna earlier said.  

According to a recently released ‘Future of Job 2023’ report by World Economic Forum, roles across AI, machine learning and big data will drive job churn globally in the next five years. Globally more than 75% of companies are looking to adopt these technologies in the next five years. As many as 86% of companies globally are planning to incorporate digital platforms and apps in their operations in the next five years. Ecommerce and digital trade are expected to be adopted by 75% of businesses, the IMF says.

In the past few months, big tech organisations such as Google, Microsoft and Meta have heavily invested in AI research. While Alphabet Inc-owned Google continues to invest in Google DeepMind, chatbot ‘Bard’ and ‘Anthropic’ in a bid to expand its AI research capabilities, Microsoft Inc-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT has already become a global ‘phenomenon. Even Mark Zuckerberg-led Meta plans to introduce “AI agents to billions of people in ways that will be useful and meaningful.” For the remaining quarters of CY23, the company plans to build out “AI capacity to support ads, feed and reels, along with an increased investment in capacity for our generative AI initiatives.”

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