Scott Petty, CTO at Vodafone Group (pictured, right), insisted the company did not have plans to follow rival BT’s lead in replacing a significant chunk of its workforce with AI, stating it saw the technology as a virtual assistant to improve productivity and not a tool to replace customer care.

During a media briefing in London, Petty said it “had not factored in or planned headcount reductions based on the technology”, noting the company had recently announced plans to axe 11,000 roles over three years, which was mostly trimming of “corporate overhead functions”.

In contrast, UK competitor BT stated in May it expects as many as 10,000 roles will be replaced by AI, with up to 3,000 in customer care as part of a wider cost-cutting strategy that will see up to 55,000 people lose their jobs by 2030.

While Petty suggested Vodafone would not go down the same route, he did add that one impact AI may have is in plans to recruit in software, an area where it had previously announced plans to hire around 7,000 employees.

Petty said there may need to be a “rebalancing” to its plans to ensure “we’ve got the right skill sets and capabilities”.

“Much of the AI use cases will be low code or no code environments so its ensuring the business users have got the skillsets and understanding and the knowledge to leverage AI technology as much as the software developers necessary to build some of the underlying models.”

On its wider AI plans, Petty said the company was working on 100 use cases around the technology and it was only running private large language models (LLM) at the moment “to ensure it stays within our data”, and thus blocking access to external LLMs in line with its privacy and security requirements.