Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly vital role in a wide range of automation technologies – and those advances are definitely here to stay. The impact of automation will be felt across many industries and countless occupations. In fact, McKinsey has reported that 30 percent of the work activities in 60 percent of current occupations will see automation in the future.
Understanding Automation vs. AI
In the next decade, AI and automation are poised to revolutionize the face of the workplace on a global scale, but it is important to understand that AI and automation are not synonymous. Each offers unique sets of functionality and benefits in the workplace:
- Automation relies on rules established by human employees. AI is designed to operate more autonomously as it learns and adapts.
- Automation focuses on repetitive tasks to free up employees from time-consuming activities. AI develops a type of intelligence in order to recognize data and relevant insights in order to make better decisions.
- Automation has been used in business for years going back to the early days of automotive manufacturing. AI, on the other hand, is newer to the workplace and can be paired with automation to enhance its benefits.
AI Automation in the Workplace
As AI expands throughout the workplace, its impact and presence can vary greatly. It ranges from things like providing guidelines for bank loans to the development of new technology platforms and data storage. While senior executives are looking for methods of integrating AI into their workplace, reports show that only eight percent of companies are prepared for organization-wide adoption. Not everything is as simple as just being plug-n-play. Organizations that are considering implementing and benefiting from AI and advanced automation will need to consider improving their thinking in three areas:
- In the new global environment, it is critical that the decision-making process has a discernable pathway to flow across the organization. AI automation can help bridge siloed decision making.
- Leadership must be willing to strike a balance between the top-down decisions and algorithm-based decision-making, rather than just resorting to an “either-or” mindset.
- Organizations must become more agile and open to learning and experimentation. AI automation success come through a series of small iterations that can only be made possible when the organization is willing to fail along the way.
AI Impact will Vary Across Industries
Just as AI automation will not impact every job in a similar fashion, they will also not affect all industries the same. A Brookings report states that some jobs such as production or food service will see a high level of change while others such as arts and entertainment will see less AI driven automation. There are several dynamics involved, such as community demographics and the types of industries that drive local economies.
AI is a fundamentally enabling technology for automation, and it will find its way into many types of businesses in the future, including:
- Customer service, such as virtual assistants, automated chatbots, and customized search recommendations.
- Smart factories and assembly lines, where machine-built and machine-packaged products can be streamlined with smart planning and processes.
- Data mining, including analytics, where AI can manage data entry and reporting capabilities with better precision.
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People are Still the Key
Remember that in the end, AI and automation aren’t about eliminating human involvement or replacing employees. Harvard Business Review has identified several organizations such as Haier, Zappos, Siemens, and more as examples of companies that have changed and adapted their businesses in technology and human engagement, and becoming more profitable by better enabling employees to be more productive and innovative. One critical step is establishing an intentionality of purpose across the organization. Employees must understand how the adoption of new AI or automation advances the core mission and the business.
As AI adoption and integration expands across a variety of industries, there will be a plethora of opportunities for those that have the right skill sets and training. Now is the time to consider degree programs like artificial intelligence engineering or coursework in areas like machine learning. These comprehensive programs offer training in coding, modeling, and data processing that can lead to great new career opportunities.