“Technology, creativity and leadership.” When it comes to planning for the future, corporate leaders see the potential for what innovations like artificial intelligence bring to the table. But AI itself only delivers on one of the THREE key components they see necessary to the future success of their organizations. This is great news for all of us humans who hope to continue to be gainfully employed when the robots take over.
In a recent Ernst and Young survey, 62% of corporate executives said they believe AI will help their firms to boost efficiency and position them to be competitive in the future. The catch, when it comes to a bright and shiny, AI-driven future, employers need employees who can help to design intelligent processes and train these AI systems to do work that is best suited for them (like high-volume, data-intensive transaction processing or data analysis).
In a nutshell, they quandary many companies face is that they lack enough people with the knowledge and skills to manage and take advantage of new technology innovations. According to the EY survey, one in three respondents identified a lack of skilled personnel (31%) as the biggest obstacle to adopting AI. That ranks ahead of confidence in achieving a compelling ROI (27%), and lack of leadership vision and understanding (24%).
The skills in question are NOT primarily technology. After all, the whole POINT of adopting AI and machine learning-enhanced technology is to reduce dependence on IT people and technologists, so that companies can focus more on their core competencies.
Instead, it is creativity and leadership qualities that companies are looking for. Things like having the ability to build and cultivate collaborative relationships with customers and partners. Or the ability to think creatively about how to apply new innovations like AI to solve a business problem. In that context, it’s not about HOW to implement AI, but WHAT you would want it to do and how to prioritize and make the business case.
What’s so exciting about the current state of business and technology is that rather than being fearful about robots taking our jobs, corporate leaders are essentially asking, what jobs should we be doing? Where do humans add the most value? Where are there dull, wasteful, repetitive tasks that we can stop doing as workers, that are better suited for automation.
Up until recently, companies and vendors focused on the most obvious problems—high volume, high velocity, transactional data and document-burdened operations like those found in the back offices of most companies.
But now, when it may be possible to leverage tools and technologies that are flexible and adaptable enough to automate lower volume, higher-value operations, the power and potential of creative process owners and visionary leaders means that the future of work could be very bright indeed.
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