Artificial Intelligence in the workplace – are robots taking over?

What exactly does artificial intelligence (AI) mean in practice? To most, there is a fear associated with it. It spells catastrophe for the human race. First, it will take over our jobs and before we know it, we will have no place in this world. However, AI has the ability to improve how we operate as well as our experiences. 

In business, it has the potential to improve efficiency, how we make decisions, and drastically cut costs. In fact, it could help create high quality jobs.   

A report by Deloitte suggested that even though technology has potentially contributed to the loss of around 800,000 lower-skilled jobs, it had helped create nearly 3.5 million new higher-skilled ones. This shows how the UK economy is benefiting from technology and the potential emerging tech has. 

Recruitment    

Recruitment is one area where AI has the potential to have a significant impact. It has the ability to speed up the hiring process and to take over laborious tasks, allowing people to concentrate on other tasks at hand, ultimately increasing productivity.   

AI will also mean businesses will be able to assess candidates more efficiently and quickly determine whether they have the suitable skillset and experience necessary for the role. 

In addition, it has the ability to overcome challenges that we find harder to deal with, such as accounting for bias in the hiring process.   

Training and development 

The introduction of AI to the training process has caused much excitement to a myriad of firms. The potential of adding machine learning capabilities to a variety of human resources systems has arrived and offers an infinite amount of potential for anticipating business goals and developing new and effective people management strategies. In addition, AI can monitor various employee requests on benefits and policies of the firm as well as recommend more adequate staff training programs.   

The gig economy is rapidly growing with no signs of decline - it is only a matter of time before a freelance corporate training market emerges. When it does, AI training evaluation tools will be used extensively. Trainers will be hired based on the results that their training schemes have generated. Results ranging from employee engagement, revenues and time management will all be measurable at rapid speed.   

AI can measure the immeasurable when it comes to learning and development by providing insight and analysis. In sales for instance, training results are easy to measure, but it is extremely difficult to measure corporate culture. AI evaluation tools could analyse over 100 factors simultaneously and this could be extremely useful to the training industry.   

Additionally, when inducting new employees, one of the ongoing challenges in any firm is the ability to rapidly and efficiently instill knowledge and understanding of the firm’s procedures and internal policies. Comprehension of a company operates, will allow employees to perform optimally in the workplace. 

Job retention   

The pace of AI development is astonishing – Google estimates robots will reach levels of human intelligence by 2029. To most people, this means that many of their jobs could be replaced by robots and smart machines. However, it is predicted that AI will primarily introduce new jobs and find different functions for existing jobs rather than replace humans. It is crucial for humans to adapt to the idea that AI will inevitably play a pivotal role in most people’s lives in the coming years.   

However, though AI will introduce new jobs and functions, some industries will be affected more than others with its growing influence.  In the healthcare industry, many large pharmaceutical and medical companies are extensively using AI and achieving great results. Manufacturing was one of the first industries to harness AI by using robots to assemble and package products for shipment and there is no sign of slowing down. Every day, new robotic developments will take things to the next level by having the ability to assemble more complicated items such as cars and electronics at a much faster pace than humans. It is important to note however, that, many AI driven production lines will still need human support and supervision.    

The customer service industry seems to be almost completely taken over by automation. In what used to be a human-run industry, automated processes have now become a quick and easy solution for companies and to some extent for consumers. Before the rise in automated customer service, hold times for a live agent were incredibly lengthy. However, the customer service industry in particular has experienced some of the backlash as consumers can become increasingly frustrated with the lack of human contact, especially when queries and issues are not simple to resolve and require more attention and detailed options to resolve. This highlights the importance of a need to have a combination of the use of technology and human interaction.    

Humans and technology working together 

The human element remains to be integral to all businesses. Technologies such as AI should be seen as an enhancer, not a replacement to the human mind. Intelligent technologies can advance human activity and people need to understand the possibilities and benefits AI can bring to businesses and everyday life first.   

Businesses should be ready to embrace the technology and make part of their goals and strategies as AI becomes more integrated into various aspects of our lives. If you are prepared, you can prosper as new innovations come along.   

The introduction of AI has undoubtedly changed how businesses operate, but it also has the ability to create and improve processes as well as increase higher level jobs in every industry.  It is normal to fear the unfamiliar, and with the reputation AI has you can see why there is a high level of scepticism. However, AI could be pivotal for businesses. Ultimately, we need to embrace it, as those who don’t will be left behind. AI is an emerging technology that is growing at a rapid speed and the quicker we learn to work with it instead of fear it, the more beneficial it will be to all.   

Chris Abbass, Co-founder of Talentful 

Image Credit: Tatiana Shepeleva / Shutterstock