Artificial intelligence technologies have the potential to boost revenues and generate higher levels of profitability and employment. But the nature of work needs to be reimagined.

In my last posts, I defined what makes artificial intelligence (AI) responsible and gave you some specifics so you can integrate responsibility into your AI design from the start. But one of the big questions remains: how will AI impact the workforce? That will be the topic of this post.

The AI revolution

As I said in my last post, businesses should consider a number of factors when designing and deploying AI technologies to build responsibility in from the start. Following the responsible AI imperative, businesses have the opportunity to use AI to improve productivity in ways never seen before.

As AI takes over more and more aspects of our lives, an alliance between humans and machines is likely to usher in a new era of work. Reaching the full capacity of AI hinges on the ability of humans and machines working together to develop differentiated customer experiences and to create entirely new products, services and markets—therein lies the true promise of AI.

Accenture estimates that AI could boost business revenues by 38 percent in the next four years.1

Additionally, in the context of our Technology Vision 2018 research, we found that:

81% of surveyed executives believe that AI will work next to humans in their organizations as a co-worker, collaborator and advisor within the next two years.2

To succeed, leaders should make some bold moves, including:

  • Redefining the roles of people.
  • Shifting the workforce to new business models.
  • Scaling up “New Skilling” to harness intelligent technologies.

Are businesses and people ready for human–machine collaboration?

But the AI revolution isn’t free of issues. It comes as no surprise that there is a pervasive fear in society that AI will be ruthlessly efficient, so efficient in fact that it would lead to massive job loss.

Businesses as well have obstacles to overcome. Based on Accenture research:3

  • Surveyed employers believe that only about 26 percent of their workforce are ready for AI adoption.
  • One in four surveyed employers cites resistance by the workforce as a key obstacle to AI adoption.
  • Only 3 percent of surveyed executives say they intend to significantly increase investment in training and reskilling programs in the next three years.

But are employers perhaps underestimating their employees’ willingness to acquire the relevant skills needed for working with intelligent machines?

Our research has also shown that:4

  • 62 percent of workers believe that intelligent technologies will create opportunities for their work.
  • 67 percent of workers find it important to learn new skills to work with intelligent technologies in the next three to five years.

In addition, workers are also consumers who are already taking advantage of the personalized services AI offers.

The keys to successful, responsible AI

To elevate their workforce and create new value through human–machine collaboration, businesses should take three key actions:

Reimagine work—from workforce planning to work planning.

  • Assess tasks, not jobs.
  • Create new job roles.
  • Map skills to new roles.

Pivot the workforce—to areas that create new forms of value.

  • Pivot the workforce to new business models.
  • Recognize the business case.
  • Organize for agility.
  • Foster a new leadership DNA.

Scale up “New Skilling”—to work with intelligent machines.

  • Prioritize skills for development.
  • Target “New Skilling.”
  • Go digital.

Consider also the thoughts of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corporation in a published Slate article. Mr. Nadella has explored how humans and AI can work together to solve society’s greatest challenges, and he formulated the following “10 Laws of AI:” 5

  • AI must be designed to assist humanity.
  • AI must be transparent.
  • AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.
  • AI must be designed for intelligent privacy.
  • AI needs algorithmic accountability so humans can undo unintended harm.
  • AI must guard against bias.
  • It’s critical for humans to have empathy.
  • It’s critical for humans to have education.
  • The need for human creativity won’t change.
  • A human has to be ultimately accountable for the outcomes generated by AI .

As AI expands further into society, the business accountability around raising a responsible and explainable AI are expected to rapidly grow. But as Paul Daugherty said at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the combination of AI and people is the answer: “Humans plus machines equals superpowers.”

For more information, download our Accenture Technology Vision 2018 and Reworking the Revolution reports. I also invite you to replay the Accenture broadcasts at WEF 2018.

 

References:

  1. “Reworking the Revolution.” Accenture, 2018. Access at: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/company-reworking-the-revolution-future-workforce.
  2. “Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed – Accenture Technology Vision 2018,” Accenture, 2018. Access at: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-technology-trends-2018.
  3. “Reworking the Revolution.” Accenture, 2018. Access at: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/company-reworking-the-revolution-future-workforce.
  4. Ibid
  5. “The Partnership of the Future.” Slate.com, June 28, 2016. Access at: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2016/06/microsoft_ceo_satya_nadella_humans_and_a_i_can_work_together_to_solve_society.html.

 

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