How AI Could Shape the Future Workforce

The increased demand for big data, coupled with the decreasing cost of gathering and processing information, is causing the C-suite to carefully examine the role that artificial intelligence might play in the future of their business. There are plenty of signs they like what they see. In fact, almost 85 percent of global executives view AI as essential to remaining competitive, according to a recent survey by Tata Consultancy. Half of them see it as “transformative.”

Investment in AI is accelerating rapidly as major tech companies race to develop and improve the technology. As a result, advancements are coming faster than most organizations can implement them.

This raises several practical questions about the future workforce. How will humans work with robots? How will AI transform today’s job roles? What are its benefits for business? While we don’t know the full extent of the answers yet, the future is becoming clearer. Here’s what we know so far.

Humans and robots will work hand in hand

While some workers see robots as a threat, a better way to view them is as “collaborators.” For example, AI can handle mundane tasks such as data analysis with great efficiency. Robots perform well as a first line of customer service, answering simple questions and directing customers to needed information. Already, businesses are deploying AI to qualify leads for sales reps and identify potential candidates for job openings.

By using technology for such time-consuming tasks, businesses give employees more time to focus on higher-value work, such as interacting with customers who have more complex issues and making sales calls to those more likely to make a purchase. In essence, AI makes human employees more productive.

Job loss versus job shift

Yes, as AI continues to make its mark in the workplace, some jobs will be lost. But the risk of a “jobless society” is over-estimated, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says. It’s more likely that parts of job roles will be replaced – not the entire role. When the OECD looked at tasks rather than jobs, it found that less than 10 percent can truly be fully automated.

This is good news but the future workforce still will require retraining as new jobs emerge. AI-driven machines will need to be programmed and maintained. As data analysis becomes more sophisticated, humans will need to sort through and analyze the numbers, as well as make the business decisions based on their analysis. HR will need to invest in employee education and job training to help its workforce develop new technology and business skills.

A productivity edge for mobile workers

Very often, AI is discussed as if it will become mainstream sometime down the road. But its impact on mobile is already apparent. For example, the combination of big data, AI and cloud technology is empowering the mobile workforce and improving the employee experience. With customer information and data analysis now easily accessible from mobile devices and chatbots handling routine questions, remote and traveling employees spend less time coping with information overload and more time focusing on face-to-face interactions with customers and partners.

It’s all but certain the future workforce will be more productive, flexible and customer-centric. The challenge for the C-suite is to keep up with the rapid evolution of AI in the workplace so they can reap its benefits.

Learn more about giving machines a voice. >

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