Artificial Intelligence has permeated all walks of life and is finding increasing use in many fields from healthcare to education to entertainment to even defence.
In business the application of AI is inescapable. It is beginning to transform the way organizations operate. The impact is significant and will induce long term structural changes in the workplace, to put it mildly, AI has transformational power.
Most AIs are designed to be very good at solving a specific problem under a well-defined set of parameters. It is often trained to mimic human behaviour. It can learn the mechanics of specific actions and algorithmic decision-making; it however does fail to follow or understand what we call emotions. AI can’t conceptualize the unknown. AI is overwhelmingly rule-based and tasked with very specific problem-solving. It fails while dealing with unknowns – solving unencountered problems, exploring unobserved spaces or tasks that require complex planning. James Manyika, Chairman McKinsey Global Institute says, ‘It is important to remember by the way, as we think about all the exciting stuff that is going on in AI and Machine Learning that the vast majority are mostly solving very specific things’.
Which are the sectors that will be impacted?
Some sectors which are likely to see a heavy influence of AI and hence the quantum of employment are as follows:
Transportation will be heavily affected by AI with driverless vehicles being tested across and at the cusp of commercialization. The last mile delivery Apps that have mushroomed use AI and ML significantly.
Electronic Commerce is another area right from the platform to the deliveries to end consumers. This will undergo a significant transformation: fulfilment centres will be fully automated, with robots navigating the space to collect products and execute customer orders; to be then sent or even delivered to customers, also automatically, with autonomous drones and/or cars. The importance of salespersons and networks of physical stores will shrink; we are close to scenarios where we will increasingly negotiate with Retailer AI agents — based on different objectives, tactics, and strategies.
Legal, Financial Services and Insurance requiring a significant amount of data processing and content handling. Typical support services in a legal context, have to do with document handling -classification, discovery, summarization, comparison, knowledge extraction, and management — tasks where AI agents can do a great job already.
Governance, State and Social mechanism are important areas which will rely very heavily on AI and algorithm-based technology. A.I. can have a great role in eliminating bureaucracy, improving the service to citizens, along the design and performance of social programs.
AI will create New Jobs
A WEF report says that while machines and algorithms are likely to displace about 75 mn jobs by 2022 but also expected to create 133 mn new ones. That is a net addition of 58 mn jobs. A PwC research states that in the UK AI could displace roughly 7 mn jobs in the country, it could also create 7.2 mn jobs resulting in a modest but net boost of 200,000 jobs.
AI will redefine Jobs
EY-NASSCOM Future of Jobs in India report predicts that by 2022, 9% of the workforce will be deployed in new jobs that do not exist today. 37% will be deployed in jobs that need new skill sets. Take a simple example of how data gets analysed from a CRM. The workflow of ‘handling a customer request’ can be broken down into separate jobs which are repeated over time and across different types of requests, for instance: customer identification, customer history retrieval, request understanding and classification, problem identification and mapping to solution space, forwarding or escalating to another team, customer document retrieval and finally the decision based on the suitable corporate policy. All the above can be covered with increased effectiveness from A.I. algorithms — they prove to be faster, more accurate, reliable, and cheaper than the corresponding team of humans. the customer service agent now only needs to act on it and make decisions based on the data as the analysing and slicing of data has already done by the AI and ML-driven software in play.
Sensing the need for new skill sets at scale the NEP2020 addresses the same by mandating the introduction of skill education right from the age of 12 years in schools. The NEP2020 also brings in massive digital infrastructure support to facilitate skill education at scale across the country.
Automate Repetitive and Mundane tasks
AI finds wide application in areas such as accounting, assembly lines and data entry. So large usage in enterprises where large volumes of data crunching and analysis is involved. A good example is the spreadsheet which makes budgets, forecasting, calculations easier and prevents unforced errors.
Most people tend to think of automation through the lens of assembly-line logic. Automation is a softer and more pervasive feature of all modern management. Every modern company has been deploying more and more Supply Chain Management (SCM), Customer Response Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in a bid to automate all or most functions. Rather than human redundancy, improved productivity has been the chief driver. Like any piece of software, the quality of AI insight depends on the quality of data you feed into it, and it takes a human to know and judge what is good for it. AI’s abilities will complement us rather than replicate us. The more technology encompasses and the more we demand technology, the more people are involved in doing that.
When you look at AI, there's this nonstop need for training, for data, for maintenance, for taking care of all the exceptions that are happening. How do we monitor AI? How do we train it? How do we make sure that AI's not running amok? Those are all going to become new jobs. AI will create millions of jobs, some that are inexistent today. AI should not be feared as a job killer but embraced as a job enabler that can create numerous employment opportunities while redefining employee’s roles and increasing productivity levels manifold.
Upskilling and Reskilling
The fast rate at which the changes in technology is happening is unprecedented, hence the companies will need to be fleet-footed and quick to upgrade not only the technology but also invest significantly in Reskilling and Upskilling their workforce. The rate of change is fast and transformational.
For an enterprise to compete in the age of AI, it must now refocus its people from being task-oriented to outcome-oriented. Leaders must rest on growth instead of efficiency. The opportunity is to steer AI into roles that free humans to focus on productive work that could be a lot more complex requiring human intervention. By design, AI works exceedingly well in specific areas that are well defined predictable and repetitive in nature. AI can liberate us from routine jobs and keep reminding us what it is that makes us human. AI will create new jobs in categories that we know of, and many more in categories that have yet to be created.