Robots May Replace Some Jobs, But Your Human Team Members Should Be There to Guide Them
Here are five ways entrepreneurs can embrace workforce automation alongside its intelligent augmentation.
The epic rise of artificial intelligence (AI) brings us to a new era of automation that is changing the world of work and employment. Some analysts believe that over the next 20 years, 47 percent of the U.S. jobs will be automated, leaving many tasks obsolete and people unemployed. This change will not be linear, though. While some jobs like driving may be fully automated in the short run, businesses should be prepared for a new mixed economy where robots and AI software work alongside human agents and cooperate with them in executing various tasks.
The emerging mixed economy leads us to a concept of augmented AI that focuses on AI's assistive role and emphasizes the fact that it's designed to improve human intelligence rather than replace it. To ensure that your company stays competitive in the machine age, I have compiled a list of five strategies for entrepreneurs to prepare for augmented AI and automation.
Find tasks that can benefit from augmentation and automation.
The first thing businesses should do is to rethink how the tasks can be made faster and more efficient via automation and augmented AI. This requires core processes and tasks be evaluated as a mix of human and machine input that simultaneously leverages the power of human and machine intelligence. Although many things can be automated and augmented with AI, companies should approach this change strategically, aligning automation with corporate culture, employee and consumer relations and the company's mission.
The key emphasis should be put on tasks that can free up the employee's time for more important activities that require essential human skills like creativity. For example, intelligent narratives software or chatbots can replace humans in executing repetitive tasks like compiling reports and arranging the meetings. As such, these AI tools can free up time for problem solving and building strong relations with clients and within teams.
Examine types of nonhuman workforces.
Businesses will need AI and robotics expertise to identify technologies, tools and strategic opportunities flourishing in the dynamic AI market. With internal or external expertise or consultancy, companies can study the entire array of robotics and cognitive and AI technologies to learn what tasks can be automated and how. Getting to know the world of robotics and AI is also critical for finding the companies and tools with the most competitive pricing to meet your budget constraints.
Make employees AI-literate.
Before the automation in your business is underway, your employees will have to learn how to effectively collaborate and configure robots, machines and AI software. For example, if you are running a chatbot application, it's crucial you have employees who can evaluate its performance and step in if something goes wrong. Similarly, many vertical chatbot AI solutions are designed to perform a single task like arranging a meeting, which maintains a strong role for employees in the mediation of communication between AI and consumers.
Also, with the growing humanization of predictive analytics software and various statistical and business intelligence tools, employees will have to grow expertise in data visualization and telling machines which reports and analyses to produce. Eventually, the comprehensive knowledge of human-AI interfaces will become indispensable for the efficient operations of your business.
Focus on the human side of the job.
It's likely that automation will have a different impact on different jobs. The most susceptible to automation are jobs that include predictable manual work, data processing and data collection. Managing others and applying expertise as well as unpredictable physical work (e.g. forestry or construction) and stakeholder interactions are less susceptible to automation. This means that tasks with "essentially human" parts of work are likely to stay in place and become even more important in the new AI era. For these tasks, skill sets like empathy, persuasion, personal service, problem-solving and strategic decision-making are becoming more valuable than ever. To stay competitive in the new AI age, companies should definitely focus on developing these skills in their employees.
Redesign careers and prepare talent.
The role of "essentially human" skills is likely to increase in jobs and tasks that have been traditionally considered technical (e.g. software development or engineering). In the AI-augmented enterprise, a technical skill set is no longer sufficient for managing human-AI interaction efficiently. Therefore, companies are facing the challenge of reframing careers and designing new ways of working and learning, both for organizations and individuals. Companies should emphasize the human component in technical jobs and create a balance of technical skills and more general purpose skills like creativity, social skills and emotional intelligence in their workforce.
These tips comprise the essential process that will help companies prepare for automation and augmented AI. Along with these tips, companies should remember that integrating artificial intelligence in the business is not a straightforward process but a task that requires a lot of planning and thinking outside the box.