Every week there are media reports of job cuts due to automation; many due to the implementation of robots in factories or the move of retail sales on-line. There are other less apparent transitions occurring too. For example; Amy from HSBC and Tobi from Vodafone are automated chatbots, they are dealing with more and more routine customer enquiries and potentially replacing customer service staff.
The Bank of England and ONS paint a concerning picture about the number of job losses over the next decade; over 3 million in the UK alone according to some estimates.
Typically, robots have replaced manual functions and intelligent software has replaced back office staff doing repetitive tasks. The further development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities poses a new threat.
AI is different as it offers some cognitive functions too; it is capable of prediction, sensory perception and reasoning. However, these capabilities only go so far………………………….
Who gets frustrated with the automated answering systems at call centres? This is because you are talking to a computer; computers cannot do the things people do well such as understanding the context and nuance of the spoken word, abstract and critical thinking, social interaction and being creative.
MIT, the leading US computer science university, defines the concept of Collective Intelligence, where machines and people work together, to provide new services that are only possible by using people and AI together.
For example, there is a new business just arrived in the UK that sells clothes on-line. “Stitch Fix” is different though; it includes a personal styling service.
Stylists are employed to select items to send to each customer to try. The stylists identify the styles most likely to appeal to individual customers, based on their profile. The stylists are aided by computers using artificial intelligence software developed in-house.
When I work with businesses I encourage them to look into the future and consider how the roles in their business could change if (i) the routine aspects were done by machine and (ii) they had a wider range of information readily available to guide their frontline staff. I then ask them what they could do better with this extra time and resource. Maybe they could service more customers ? Maybe they could deliver a more personalised service? Maybe they could develop new revenue streams by providing new services?
For practical advice on preparing your staff and business for the opportunities AI offers, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.