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The impact of AI and the future of work

Although still in its infancy, AI has introduced game-changing new capabilities into the business world.  Machine learning and chatbots have crept into our digital lives, first on the consumer side and now, as workplace tools to help employees get more done. As machines get smarter, they’re able to move beyond basic assembly-line work and handle more of the tasks that once required a human. One study speculated that 60 percent of businesses could be automated in the next five years.

Despite dire predictions about disappearing jobs, people remain as vital to business as ever. Although AI has made some roles obsolete, it’s also creating new roles within many organizations as companies search for employees with new digital skill sets to navigate the changing enterprise landscape. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will generate more jobs than it displaces—in some firms as many as two in three jobs didn’t exist just a few years ago.

All signs point to the probability AI will enhance, not replace, humans.

“On the whole, robots and intelligent software seem destined to be used in cooperative and collaborative ways with humans,” says Google’s vice president Vint Cerf. “Augmenting human capacity with machine intelligence seems to be the most fruitful way forward in the near term. Ingestion and analysis of large quantities of information and pattern recognition are all ways in which robotic systems and software can be used to assist human endeavor.”

Here are some of the ways in which AI will reshape the way we work:

Human-to-machine interaction

Unlike the human brain, smart machines don’t learn on their own. They need humans to train them. Machine training will become a vital role moving forward as more companies rely on AI for fundamental business processes.

Take chatbots, for example, which have swiftly become a popular communication tool for businesses. To become more effective, chatbots need to develop emotional intelligence as well as language proficiency. Companies like Replika, which makes empathetic chatbots, rely on human trainers to teach their chatbots the nuances of human interaction.

Their co-founder, Eugenia Kuyda, explains, “You have to build chatbots in a way that makes people happy and want to achieve their goals. Without a certain amount of empathy, it’s not going to happen.”

Smart process automation

Machines have long been able to handle assembly-line tasks. They perform the task they were programmed to do, and they do it exactly the same way every time. AI augments this rule-based automation with decision-making capabilities that, as it learns, enable the machine to perform tasks better each time, promising “radically enhanced efficiency, increased worker performance, reduction of operational risks, and improved response times and customer journey experiences,” says McKinsey.

Smart process automation combines fundamental process redesign with robotic process automation and machine learning to assist knowledge workers with routine tasks and simplify customer interactions. According to McKinsey, companies experimenting with this technology have achieved impressive results across industries: automation of up to 70 percent of tasks, as much as 35 percent cost efficiency, and a 50 to 60 percent reduction in process time.

Proactive business intelligence

Humans are creating data at such an astonishing rate that just 20 percent of the world’s data is even searchable—and the vast majority never gets analyzed. A machine powered by AI can sift through vast quantities of data and detect patterns, while its learning capabilities enable it to convert those patterns into valuable business insights and surface them proactively. As a result, business leaders are able to increase revenue, lower costs, and provide a better customer experience.

“Companies today are becoming more customer-centric as digital technologies pervade day-to-day experiences. As a result, it is critically important to truly know customers’ likes and dislikes, demographic attributes, and other factors associated with enhancing both revenue and engagement,” says CMSWire contributor Allan Frank. “Taken a step further, advanced AI techniques can be used to predict the actions of customers and, with that information, offer different products or services at the right time through the right digital channel.”

When used effectively artificial intelligence can add tremendous capabilities to an organization. While no one knows exactly what the future of work looks like, one thing is certain: AI is going to change everything.

Topic: Digital workplace

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