The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has kickstarted a world of innovation at unprecedented speed; one that many simply don’t know how to prepare for.
First, as business leaders we need to stop telling our teams that their jobs aren’t threatened by AI.
If we suppress this new reality, we will miss the opportunity to prepare them for new AI skills, job roles, and business strategies.
Everyone should individually ask themselves: ‘Does my profession or skill contribute to something that can create value in the future?’. If the answer is no, we must act immediately.
Think of it like an oncoming avalanche. For years, momentum has been building up towards sophisticated digital solutions.
Some may not have noticed the snow building up atop the mountain, and others have simply ignored it in the hopes that it won’t change their path.
But now that the layers of emerging innovation have built up, it has become an avalanche that will reshape everything in its way
Embracing AI’s impact on the future of work is no different from the need to embrace the inevitability of change during an avalanche.
We need to prepare for the force of it, understand its potential, and adapt our strategies to work in synergy with it – especially to prevent getting buried beneath the surface.
If you can do that, the opportunities that await us are endless – for workers, businesses, and society as a whole.
The AI-human collaboration
At this point, we have excellent examples of how AI can do particular jobs – so much so that we are already armed with the blueprint for integrating AI into our workforce – from the lessons of IBM’s Deep Blue to the potential of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
So, what threat do these AI technologies pose to our workforce?
According to a JAMA Internal Medicine report, where AI chatbots and physicians answered patient questions posted on social media, 78.6% of people rated the responses of the AI higher in quality and empathy compared to the medical doctors.
But this shouldn’t make employees fear losing their job, it should instead give business leaders the opportunity to improve employee fulfillment and engagement at work (while adding value in a different way).
For the medical profession, for example, the support of AI can relieve pressure on healthcare staff and give them time back to spend on valuable decision-making and patient-focused care.
AI can also deliver financial benefits for the economy.
The same JAMA report predicts that AI will provide a significant boost to global labor productivity, and estimates that it could increase annual global GDP by 7%. This on its own is no small achievement.
According to famous American Economist Paul Krugman, “Productivity isn’t everything, but, in the long run, it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.”.
But the outcome of this will ultimately depend on how we adopt AI across our industries.
In the future:
- HR and talent workers could ask “Hey AI, search for candidates, select the best applications, book interviews, and layout test cases for them to solve.”
- Legal teams can enquire “Hey AI, do we have a case here? Compare previous outcomes and tell me if it’s worth following this one.”
- Logistics companies might investigate “Hey AI, help me optimize my fleet utilization, book drivers for next week, and adjust the price to meet competition.”
- Finance departments could ask “Hey AI, do my financial reporting for this month, identify areas we can make savings and suggest green opportunities.”
For businesses, this means that although our job roles will change, operations and productivity will increase. It will also open up more opportunities for companies to identify solutions before they even know there is a problem.
To make this work though, businesses need to look to long-term investment in the skills of their employees and their technology.
The impact of AI on workforce hierarchies
AI is set to replace many white-collar workers in repetitive tasks, research and analysis, educational programs, and legislation work, so the impact on our current workforce hierarchies will be significant.
According to recent research by Goldman Sachs, as much as 25% of all current work will be substituted by AI.
But not all workers will be affected in the same way. Whilst 44% of employment in the legal industry will be exposed to AI and automation, the same can only be said for 6% in construction and extraction.
But the most impacted of all workers will be the 46% of those working in office and administrative support.
As such, workforce hierarchies will be subject to significant changes at three core levels.
Specialists in roles with human empathy and care, such as nurses and healthcare assistants, will become even more valued in a digital future.
In fact, workers like these that have human interaction at their core will be greatly needed as we lose more human touch points in other areas of our society.
Globally we have widely implemented greater digitization of airport check-in journeys, supermarket shops, and even restaurant experiences.
But, as we saw from COVID-19, people don’t want human roles to be completely digital in their daily interactions, so we must be more intentional with protecting skills in this area.
Roles within planning, administration and procurement, however, will see vast transformation.
These areas are at great risk as AI capabilities continue to grow – meaning large parts of these jobs will soon disappear and be wiped out at high pace globally.
So, in response to the loss of these jobs, businesses and workers need to reimagine the new roles and skills that will replace them.
The World Economic Forum believes that although a total of 85 million jobs will be displaced by AI, 97 million new roles are likely to emerge – that’s 12 million new opportunities!
Many of these jobs will have AI-human collaboration at the center – like positions such as prompt engineering.
As we leverage AI to improve businesses capabilities, it is an opportunity for leaders to be innovative about the formation of their future workforce.
Lastly, individuals in strategy and leadership roles – often the executives and directors in businesses – will see a different kind of change.
Although there are always going to be people in this position, this level will soon begin to decrease in size.
Future progression to this tier in the future will require mindsets that make room for AI at the critical decision-making stages of business.
So, leaders that have skills that can complement this need will be most desired.
The value of a human future
AI may not possess our emotions, love, intuition, nuance, and inventive creativity, but it does not change the fact that it will fundamentally change everything.
We can’t afford to just sit around and wait as its abilities continue to grow in areas we used to believe were reserved for human intelligence.
Human skills will always be essential, we just need to change how we think about them.
Want to learn more from Rylance about AI? He will be speaking, alongside Netcompany’s global CPO Jesper Klitgaard, on the topic at UNLEASH World 2023. It’s not too late to join them; grab your free ticket now!
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