AI & Robotics “Automate Tasks” not Jobs

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been changing our lives for decades, but today its presence is bigger than ever before. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it when a new AI-powered system, tool, or product appears and outperforms us, humans. In fact, AI is affecting human life on all kinds of levels varying from:

  • The automation of tedious, time-consuming tasks to;
  • The augmentation of human capabilities and;
  • The amplification of human functions.

The benefits of AI and automation for HR and the workforce don’t come instantly, however. It’s a journey and one can see the short-term benefits of this journey in automation, the medium-term benefits in augmentation and finally the long-term benefits in the amplification of human activities or tasks.

AI is everywhere today, and there are many aspects to consider as to how it will impact the future of work.

“It’s now popping into almost every piece of software,” said Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte. Based on research by Bersin by Deloitte, nearly 40% of companies are using some form of AI in HR alone.

According to Personnel Today, 38% of enterprises are already using AI in their workplace with 62% expecting to start using it as early as this year. According to Bersin by Deloitte, 33% of employees expect that their jobs will become augmented by AI in the near future.

We are already increasingly using chatbots and virtual assistants in our personal lives and now we can expect to use them in the workplace as well. For example to assist us in finding new jobs, answer FAQs, or receive coaching and mentoring. The use of artificial intelligence in organizations could help us to create a more seamless, more flexible, and more user-driven employee experience.

So, will AI and automation go and automate our jobs?

Most of our daily jobs are associated with tasks like paperwork, scheduling, timesheets, accounting, expenses etc. (as shown below with an average percentage). Of course, it is useful to outsource these repetitive tasks to digital assistants or automated software, freeing up more time for deep thinking and creativity.

When it comes to the cognitive technologies that leverage AI that are currently available in the market, their main impact so far has been to augment existing job functions, not to eliminate workers. The machines or systems that can reason, learn, and interact naturally with people will likely continue to eliminate repetitive tasks, help the workforce to do their jobs better and faster, and free up time for more interesting tasks.

So, the key will be for HR to develop an AI and Automation Strategy that starts by analyzing what job roles, processes, and workflows will be re-skilled by AI. In her recent article, “AI plus Human Intelligence Is the Future of Work”, Jeanne Meister states how one can begin thinking about the implications of AI and automation on work tasks, key job roles, and work processes. You can simply start by asking:

  • Automate: What are the key activities within this role that could be automated to provide greater efficiency and effectiveness to accomplish routine tasks?
  • Augment: How could more value be created by applying people analytics to identify new business insights for better strategic planning and actions?
  • Amplify: Which work processes and workflows could be re-designed by AI technologies to boost human activities and decision-making?
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