The fear of artificial intelligence replacing or infringing on humankind has persisted ever since the birth of science fiction. But today, AI is no longer a work of fiction and is an active and important part of our working world. According to recent Gartner research, AI is predicted to currently power more than 85% of the direct end consumer interaction services. So is artificial intelligence in the workplace a cause for concern? Should employees be worried? We’re here to help calm your fear. Recent stats clearly indicate that AI will improve and enhance, rather than replace the human touch of consumer interaction points. AI and its continued advancement and integration in the workforce will, of course, change how business work, but it will never be the threat that many people fear. Artificial intelligence in the workplace, used effectively, will enable and improve the modern workforce, allowing them to work smarter and more efficiently than ever before.
Will People Lose Their Jobs?
The number of skills that can be holistically defined by algorithms are increasingly on the rise. So some jobs that include these skills may in time become automated. A few examples of these potential occupations are data entry operators, translators, loan and insurance underwriters and customer support centers. The day to day tasks performed in these roles take up a huge amount of manpower and payroll costs and businesses often feel that the time, effort, energy and costs are not always justifiable for the investment. This is where automation aided by AI can step in and take things into its own hands.
Most simple and repetitive tasks do not actually require an AI analysis. Even simple robotic process automation tools can perform a majority of rule-based tasks with success and speed beyond human ability. Bring AI and cognitive computing into these environments greatly increase the speed, accuracy, and savings available to businesses. And while AI, of course, has many possible business applications and limits still being discovered, simple, regular and straightforward tasks like payroll management or vendor invoicing are all very possible with the AI tech available today.
What Should Employees Do?
So, now what? With artificial intelligence in the workplace increasingly replacing the human involvement in everyday tasks, what should employees do? Employees in these areas need to start taking time now to explore new avenues and increase their skills. While that might seem scary at first, AI actually offers employees all kinds of exciting opportunities as they discover how to make AI an enabler. With AI taking care of basic, routine and everyday needs, employees are allowed more time and energy for strategic thinking and creative execution. This is not only an effective way to counter the perceived threat of artificial intelligence in the workplace, but it also frees up employees to move up the corporate ladder faster and find more meaning in their occupations. In a recent survey conducted by Dell with close to 3,800 top-level executives, over 82 % of the respondents believed that AI and humans can work successfully integrate and work together.
How Can We Co-Exist?
The secret to successfully using artificial intelligence in the workplace is understanding how it can make our work easier. Finding a vacant parking spot, scheduling events, sending out invites, booking meeting rooms, ordering supplies, taking minutes and much more are all little activities that AI can take off of our schedule. And while none of these activities individually take much thought, effort or time, they can collectively add up to hours of productive time taken away from employees.
AI assistance with everyday office tasks will always lead to increased productivity and creativity but the real value of artificial intelligence and human collaboration can be attained in fields like medical diagnostics. Medical leaders globally are using cognitive tools such as IBM Watson to precisely identify causes and remedies for deadly diseases. Going through extensive data records could take a person months or even years to complete but for a machine, it takes only seconds. This increased organization and speed enables doctors and other medical professionals to predict symptoms more accurately and increase medical advancements sometimes years ahead of schedule.
The Bottom Line
There is no question that AI is a disrupter and that its presence and evolution will permanently change the business world. But the negative perceptions of AI overtaking human abilities or causing insurmountable unemployment just aren’t true. IDC predicts that by 2021 global spending on AI tech will surpass USD 57.6 Billion. That equates to a year on year growth rate of over 50%. So artificial intelligence in the workplace is absolutely here to stay. As for the human workforce, fine-tuning and advancing skills, increasing collaboration abilities and expanding on your creativity will help you not only stay relevant but also learn how to use AI as a tool for increased advancement and success.