Shaping The Workforce Of The Future: How AI Contributes To The Workplace

With AI set to take over thousands of jobs not only in the region but across the world, many are asking the obvious questions of what this means for workers, and if workers are at risk of losing their job in the near future.

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By Ramesh Jagannathan


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When a country like the UAE becomes the only nation in the world to have established a dedicated ministry for Artificial Intelligence (AI), it sends out a strong indication of the government's confidence in technological advancements and their ability to become the catalyst that will transform the country.

Taking this a step further, the UAE also launched its Strategy for Artificial Intelligence which plays a big role in the country's Centennial 2071 objectives and future vision for the country. It is no surprise that such emphasis has been placed on AI. Spearheading the fourth industrial revolution, it continues to be a game-changer and has the potential to significantly raise economic growth rates across the Middle East. In fact, according to a report by Accenture, AI will add $182 billion in annual gross value add to the UAE's economy by 2035.

On a corporate level AI has the power to boost business operations, augment customer solutions, and strengthen growth strategies. As a result, many of the UAE's corporates have been quick to rely on the strategic advantages of AI solutions to boost employment and business profitability from AI integration into their organizational structure.

While this all seems very positive, there are underlying concerns and ongoing uncertainty around the future of employment and the role that AI has to play in this. With AI set to take over thousands of jobs not only in the region but across the world, many are asking the obvious questions of what this means for workers, and if workers are at risk of losing their job in the near future.

The reality presents something altogether different and progressive. AI has the ability to free workers from mundane tasks. Intelligent Automation enables greater worker productivity and innovation which frees workers up for new job opportunities. Industry experts believe that the seamless integration of human intelligence with machine intelligence is the key to business success. However, this will require a new realm of workforce skills– one that focuses on enhancing human expertise in the more emotional but necessary realms of empathy, negotiation and creative thinking. These human attributes perfectly complement automated technologies to give businesses an all-round formula for success.

Corporations that wish to adopt AI often face resistance due to the unknown. Many feel that it may affect their role or the future success of the company. What they overlook is that this can usually be overcome by greater awareness and education on the associated benefits. Over two thirds of workers in the Middle East realize this and consider it important to develop their own skills to work with intelligent machines. While there is still some ground to cover, the UAE's workers are open-minded about adjusting their skills to meet the needs of the future workplace. What is needed is for corporates to ensure the implementation of a rock-solid AI strategy to maximize the opportunity it presents.

Are the UAE's corporations ready for AI adoption?

A recent report by the Dubai Technology Entrepreneurship Campus (Dtec) and startAD prepared in collaboration with ArabNet found that corporations in the UAE are still new to experimenting with AI implementation. However, there are some innovative companies who are going ahead with experimentation and implementation even though they may not have a strategy in place.

Organizations that have yet to deploy a formal AI strategy usually fall into two categories. First, companies that do not have a formal strategy yet are implementing AI; and second, companies that are implementing AI solutions while simultaneously working on developing a formal strategy. When considering AI, organizations must assess the risk and the ROI of AI adoption through a cost-benefit analysis as well as creating clear direction and guidelines that take into account their value proposition. Of course they must ensure that a budget is set aside for proper AI adoption.

AI will provide ample opportunities in shaping the workforce of the future and there are many organizations that are set to welcome this change. With the UAE government introducing and supporting AI initiatives rigorously, corporations will be in the position to plan their strategic transitionary journey in line with new and upcoming technological advancements that benefit their business operations.

Related: How Artificial Intelligence Is Reinventing Human Resources

Ramesh Jagannathan

Managing Director, startAD

Ramesh Jagannathan is the Managing Director of startAD and also the Vice Provost of Innovation at NYU Abu Dhabi. 

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