Companies Will Need To Learn To Work Alongside AI

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The jury is still out on whether or not AI will take over our jobs but one thing is for sure - it will integrate into businesses more and more. Here's how this will benefit companies:

Contrary to popular belief, humans and artificial intelligence (AI) can co-exist, and work together towards a shared goal. Sure, AI and machine learning are game-changers, a fact already eluded to in a previous post on StartUs Magazine. These technologies — “smart” in so many ways — are in fact impacting businesses everywhere already, and will continue to as technology advances.

Automation As The Key?

SALESmanago Marketing Automation CEO Greg Blazewicz even advised startups to invest in marketing automation. He explains that it “can automate a lot of manual tasks and increase the number of meaningful interactions with current and potential customers of any startup,” which then leads to a reduction in costs and an increase in time for their employees. The caveat, however, is for companies not to over-rely on AI and its associated technologies, as it will eventually be detrimental to the human workforce. For all the wonderful features brought about by robots, automated machinery smart software and smart computers, there are still tasks that only humans can accomplish. That being said, a future workplace where humans and AI are working together is not out of the realm of possibility.

The thing is, companies will have to prepare accordingly, and that doesn’t necessarily mean aiming for complete automation. Rather, preparation should center on leveraging AI to improve the workplace. Human resources stand to benefit most from AI. Already, AI and machine learning are being used in expediting the talent acquisition process by scouring applications and résumés to pinpoint candidates that fit the criteria. Narrowing down the field of applicants is helpful in itself already, but AI still lacks the necessary human interaction. Ultimately, it is up to HR personnel to do interviews and make decisions as to who they’ll hire. This dynamic is actually already in play at several startups across Europe. ‘10 European Startups with the Potential to Disrupt the HR Industry’ by EU Startups even lists HR-related startups that have become beacons of automation. For instance, MoBerries utilizes a fully automated ranking system that matches qualified applicants with various companies in search of new talent. Productive Mobile also does as advertised: It makes the human workforce more productive by automating manual HR tasks, thus freeing up HR professionals to do other things.

Serving As An Addition

That being said, it is also important to note that AI adoption is happening faster than originally anticipated. This accelerated rate of AI adoption, in turn, raises questions as to the utility of certain job skills. The honest answer is that AI will eventually render certain skills obsolete. The good news is that AI’s early adopters still recognize the human element needed in the workplace; in fact, approximately companies who have started utilizing AI are willing to retrain and redeploy employees so they can work alongside technology. Take self-checkout machines as an example as they are gradually being introduced in stores. They are fast and efficient, and what they do is a duplication of what cashiers do. The stores can then retrain their cashiers to be checkout assistants, whose primary tasks are to answer customer queries and troubleshoot the new technology.

Now, more and more stores in Europe are deploying self-checkout machines — but not everyone is happy with them, especially in the UK. A BBC report found that the machines in the UK help reduce costs, but often at the expense of customer satisfaction. The technology is a work in progress, but the findings illustrate that full automation may not necessarily be the only answer.

Again, the main takeaway here is that humans and AI can be complementary; with humans able to augment machines and machines capable of enhancing the things humans do best. This make-each-other better interplay is being observed in the logistics industry, which is one of the early adopters of AI technology. Automated robots are making warehousing safer and more efficient, though they mostly remain under the stewardship of a human workforce. Smart software is also being used more and more as Verizon Connect outlines how it has become an invaluable tool for the logistics industry. With smart software, fleet managers can easily and effectively organize vehicles, people, and equipment as data is collected and made available in real time, thanks to AI. This information is by and large useless if it is not quickly analyzed, interpreted, and utilized by humans in charge of operations. These examples clearly illustrate why there is a need to work alongside AI to yield positive results. In the case of the logistics industry, the upside of this cooperation is improved customer service, as the processes are streamlined and made more efficient thanks to AI and the human workforce working together.

Now, there are doomsday scenarios regarding massive AI adoption, including those posited in the paper ‘Will Robots Really Steal Our Jobs?’ by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In the study, PwC contests that automation will put plenty of jobs at risk in the coming years, particularly when automation comes into full implementation. That may be the case, however, humans will invariably lose some of their jobs to robots and smart computers anyway. A complete AI takeover though won’t be happening anytime soon. Instead, what will happen is that humans and AI will complement each other which is a win-win dynamic.




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