Automation, cognitive technologies, and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly important in business. Over the past decade technology has changed the way we live and work. Technology has already made us more productive, transforming our communication, entertainment and even shopping. And this is just the beginning — achievements in artificial intelligence are opening new opportunities to improve our education, healthcare, and achieve a more sustainable future.
We need to redefine the working roles today, not limited to the means of “human” and “machine” work, but also introduce new, hybrid labor models in which the use of new technologies drastically increase human productivity. Managing the workforce of the future will involve something more than a distribution of responsibilities between virtual assistants, smart chatbots, robots, AI-controlled mechanisms, and people.
We shouldn’t take loud headlines about the rapid displacement of people by robots from traditional jobs too literally, because a much more likely scenario will be a gradual improvement of the workcycle, based on the common work of people and machines. While technology is still not able to duplicate or replace many of the unique human qualities: empathy, conviction and verbal understanding. Undoubtedly, some of the simple and routine professions will disappear forever, and their automation will free people to work on more “human” problems, forcing rather to apply social skills and emotional intelligence.
For example, when bank chatbots completely take over the role of consultants in conducting banking operations, released employees will be able to devote more time to selling products to customers.
How are the leaders of the existing businesses related to these prospects? According to the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report from Deloitte, when more than 10,000 HR and directors were interviewed, only 20% announced their intention to reduce the number of jobs in their companies, due to the increasing automation of the workflow. 77% of respondents intend to retrain employees to use new technologies or to redesign workplaces for greater use of human skills.
With this trend, it is easy to assume that by 2020 most companies will be ready for a new, hybrid work environment. But this raises a number of additional questions — how to manage the efficiency, if the workforce includes bots? What payment approach to choose, if in a pair of “man-and-bot”, bots will generate the most part of the profit? How to solve the issues of taxation and even pensions?
Reorganization and re-profiling of workforce will require us to develop new ways of thinking about jobs, corporate culture and technology. Let’s look at several trends that will affect the most common processes.
Bots and Corporate Culture
What will happen to your company when you hand traditional human roles and tasks to bots? How will this affect your employees and colleagues? It all depends on how responsible you go to the period of adaptation.
As you start upgrading, think about your talent base as a support, which allows you to navigate in the digital organization of the future. Even if you are not ready to completely transform your business following the example of the teal organizations of the future, the work culture should be an addition to the upcoming automation. Over time, employees will adopt and master the rules of the new work environment, where chatbots will not be thought of only as an unreasonable “answering machine” in social networks, and virtual assistants controlled by AI will compete with a person not only in synthetic tests.
You should also think about making changes to the performance evaluation system — bots are easier to achieve quantitative KPI, and creative and social tasks will still remain the prerogative of the human. This pushes us to an important conclusion — the earlier you start implementing a new digital culture, the better results employees will be able to achieve, even by searching for opportunities to use bots in different tasks.
Technology Is Not a Tool, but a Workflow Component
We are used to the fact that technology is an instrument. But for how long will such a role remain in the means of transition to a working model where the bots are supplementing the human? AI, robotics and cognitive technologies are already blurring the line between the tools for achieving goals and the components that are an integral part of the process.
Machine-learning helps in decision-making and problem solving. Bots are becoming a part of the staff management and recruiting model, but without a deep understanding of the capabilities and limitations of a particular technology making any strategic decisions involves risks. Bots, cognitive technologies, and AI are much more than the IT industry. Integration of people and technologies is becoming an interdisciplinary task, therefore, attention should be paid not only to IT departments, but also to top management of companies.
By allowing professionals with a deep understanding of the specifics of future technologies and automation to advise or even manage the implementation process, you can achieve the necessary strategic goals.
No Word on the Risks
When considering the organization of the future working process, one must not forget about the real risk of automation of “bad” or inaccurate business processes. Unwisely relying on machine learning algorithms or AI tips, one can face a real performance degradation. Even in routine tasks for AI, incorrect decisions that would not have occurred to a person, but could distort the results of the work are possible.
In such cases, you should hedge the bots, while retaining the ability to manage and interfere with their work. Even the most advanced chatbot in a difficult situation can be replaced by an operator, to enhance the overall customer satisfaction. Do not forget about the human factor, too — how will people behave when it will be necessary to include the metrics for bots and teamwork when assessing the productivity? Do not underestimate the importance of the human role, because the rapid development of technology can compromise the credibility of employees, regardless of the position they occupy.
They can be HR employees or IT professionals, financial workers or technical support operators, managers from virtually any business sphere — are you sure that they will all be supportive of the growing bots and cognitive technologies? To prepare for the future, it is worth starting to implement and train employees today.
Do not forget cybersecurity. Bots can be targets for attack, endangering the vulnerable data of employees and customers, which can damage the reputation of the company. By implementing and developing bots, it’s worthwhile to trust experienced professionals who will ensure that the necessary monitoring and security tools are built into the bot at the stage of its development, and then will be constantly monitored, checked and adapted to new tasks.
Bots and People
The widespread distribution of bots and virtual assistants affects our work. We do not hesitate to talk to Siri, order products through Alexa or ask job-related questions from Google Assistant. Messengers, CMS, video chat and e-mail are used in all areas — even in those where personal communication and meetings seemed indispensable.
According to a study from Deloitte conducted in 10 regions of the world, in different countries the influence of automation is affected by different industries. In Latin America, new technologies are of interest to large mining and resource companies, despite the fact that these areas are far from IT. In Central and Northern Europe, robotics and cognitive automation will affect a large number of large service centers and suppliers of business process outsourcing. On the neighboring continent, in Australia, the low entry barrier to cloud technology can be an incentive for the introduction of new technologies in data centers. For Africa, as for other emerging markets, the coming changes can lead to an increase in high unemployment.
In assessing the timing of the introduction of bots and automation of work processes, the majority of survey respondents call 2020, and the increase in the influence and capabilities of AI and cognitive technologies will take two to five years. At the same time, regardless of the region, experts around the world expect that a certain degree of professional development of employees will be required for the shift.
Perhaps changes will also be required in education to prepare people for work in the future. In the legal sphere, a legal framework will be needed to regulate new ways of working, including adequate protection of workers (and possibly bots?) And to support the social protection system.
Creating a labor market based on the skills of working with bots does not seem to be a purely hypothetical task. Given the nature of working with technological innovations, the traditional system of benefits provided by the employer is subject to reformation. Enterprises and experts will need to work together to create reliable artificial intelligence systems and prepare people for a world where the skills they need will constantly change.
This will require the creation of bots and AIs that are focused primarily on humans and can provide broad and fair access to the benefits of technology.
Time to Make a Decision
Predictions for the future give us the opportunity to prepare for it. Determine how your business can use this trend — and act! Business processes that do not require mandatory human participation can be optimized.
When choosing a strategy, proceed from the needs of your organization — perhaps chatbots are a need not of yours as of your customers? Why not offer them such an opportunity before competitors do it?
Take advantage of the unique experience of companies that keep their hands on the pulse of modern technology. BRN.AI is ready to provide advice to your business or give you access to the platform to create your own chatbot company, as a White Label solution.
Remember, different technologies require different approaches. Define the expenses on modernization, without losing the high cost of hiring your own specialists in AI and machine learning from sight. Achievements in artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies and chatbots are a challenge to existing jobs, our careers and the role of technology in the very way of our work.
Take the chance to rethink a completely new organizational model in which people and bots become equivalent employees, complementing and strengthening each other, working for the benefit of your business. Or ignore this tendency and let your workflow become obsolete irrevocably. The choice is always yours!