This article was written by Ravi Kumar S, Chief Executive Officer, Cognizant and Andreea Roberts, Vice President of Marketing. This perspective originally appeared on Fortune.com.
The public unveiling of OpenAI’s ChatGPT has brought about a tectonic shift in the role technology plays in our lives. It demystified the potential of generative artificial intelligence (AI) virtually over night, humanized powerful software, and made it accessible to all.
Tasks and talents that were once exclusive to humans, and even defined our humanity, are now shared with algorithms. Rather than stifling humans, however, this technology has enabled us to expand our knowledge and skillsets far beyond what we previously thought possible. We are now on a journey through uncharted territory, an evolutionary leap where generative AI places boundless potential at our fingertips—shrinking the digital divide, empowering users, and transforming business and work through new levels of human-machine collaboration.
From digital divide to universal access
Historically, technology has created a divide—between those who can use specific programming languages and those who cannot as well as between businesses with sufficient resources to invest in proprietary applications and those unable to compete. Packaged enterprise software and open-source platforms broadened access to productivity and business apps. Still, the burden of capital requirements and the need for extensive customization kept these applications out of many businesses' reach.
First came the advent of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) models, then low to no-code apps and Agile methodologies dramatically expanded access to enterprise-grade software, assisted by favorable commercial models that eased the transition from capital to operational expenses. Yet, during the digital acceleration of 2020, digital capabilities contributed to a performance chasm—digitally forward businesses experienced a boost, while digital laggards fell behind.