The integration of technology and the workplace has led to an on-going conversation about the future of work and how artificial intelligence and machine learning will impact jobs, compensation, and skill demands. While some have reported feeling threatened by the prospect of artificial intelligence, a recent study conducted by MetLife revealed 56% of employers have a positive outlook on automation, analytics, and robots.
The highly speculated topic of the future of work has sparked an untold number of “what if’s” and apprehension about how disruptive artificial intelligence will actually be. Will virtual reality dramatically alter the workplace? Will wearable productivity and wellness trackers become a widely accepted part of life as an employee? Will robots serve as an additional member of the team or replace certain functions altogether?
From hospitality and healthcare to industries like finance, manufacturing, legal, and education, artificial intelligence has begun infiltrating a wide variety of businesses. Think about it. Chances are, you’ve already interacted with a chatbot through Slack, a company website, or Facebook Messenger. More and more organizations are adopting chatbots to improve customer experience. While the technology operates like an automated robot, the software is able to connect with users in a personalized and engaging way.
This is just one of the many examples of AI becoming an integral part of how we go about our daily lives. Since I only expect the hype to grow stronger, here are some predictions for what we can expect to see in the AI arena in the 2019 year.
AI assistants have already nuzzled their way into our everyday lives. Just this morning, I asked Alexa about the weather, added bananas to my grocery list, and requested to hear some Bob Marley tunes (my idea of a quick Caribbean escape before hitting the office for the day). But Alexa isn’t the only player in the game. Google Home, Siri, and Xbox’s Cortana are a few of the many AI-powered assistants that can pay your bills, order products, peruse the internet, respond to texts, read emails, and perform a number of other convenient tasks.
In 2019, we can expect to see further developments for AI assistants, as Amazon has already announced bringing an Alexa-enabled gadget to your car and companies like Hyundai, said they are developing their own AI assistant for your vehicle. Digital Assistants open up a multitude of opportunities for the workplace to improve operational efficiency, connectivity, and the way we connect and communicate with customers. Alexa can potentially be used to calculate sales figures, start meetings, shut down systems at the close of the business day, and allow for a whole other dimension of multitasking.
Integration of Man & Machine
As technology continues to evolve, so does the idea that AI will function as an extension of a company, aiding in its day-to-day operations and long-term growth rather than replacing its' employees. Many businesses are seeing the relationship between humans and machines as mutually beneficial and an opportunity to enhance performance. The biggest challenge for companies currently developing AI-based software is perfecting the technology’s ability to digest and understand human behavior and the nuances of how we interact and communicate. Refining this aspect of the software would greatly enhance a company’s brand equity and customer service offerings.
A workplace that embraces the human-machine relationship will find that automation creates flexibility; allowing employees to focus on high-value tasks rather than manual, time-consuming activities. Not only will this eliminate unnecessary human error, but it’ll open up the doorway for companies to leverage data in new and innovative ways while giving employees the opportunity to engage in work that is rewarding rather than repetitive.
As AI progresses, so will job opportunities. There will be a need for workers to program and train computers, analyze and interpret data supplied by machines, and ensure AI-based systems continue to learn without deviating from their original purpose.
Machine Learning and Improved Data
Regardless of industry or company size, machine learning has the power to benefit all facets of the business, improving an organization’s bottom line and feeding the company’s overall success. Manufacturing companies can use machine learning to predict when equipment is in need of servicing and healthcare companies can apply deep learning algorithms to improve patient care by using lab testing, family history, gender, race, and other data to determine the likelihood of someone having a stroke or contracting a certain disease.
Besides saving lives and lowering the cost of care, machine learning can also analyze sales and financial data, predict customer purchasing patterns and behaviors, enhance the customer experience through personalization, detect fraud and increase cybersecurity, improve customer retention and loyalty, automate various workflows and processes (saving companies time and money), and revolutionize supply chain management as a whole.
An Evolving Workplace
With PwC predicting AI to be massive by 2030 – we’re talking about having a game-changing $15.7 trillion global economic impact – there’s no denying that AI and machine learning will dramatically transform the workplace in the coming years. We have only just begun to unlock the capabilities of this technology, with more advancements being made with each passing day. One thing's for certain, we can expect to see AI continue to streamline processes, automate workflows, optimize data collection capabilities, and help businesses operate more efficiently and effectively.