Like it or not, the brave new world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. A hot topic of debate, AI has ardent proponents and zealous nay-sayers across industry segments. The technology has been around for a while and each day sees an exponential growth in new use cases for AI for enterprises and businesses.
At the centre of this lies the existential debate – will AI replace jobs? At the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum 2019 (NTLF 2019), Nitin Seth, CEO, Incedo, in a thought-provoking panel opines that the sensationalized bleak picture obscures the practical debate of AI and human workforce. AI will replace a few specific job functions but along with it emerges the opportunity of redesigning tasks.
What does that mean for the workforce?
Off late, AI is being seen as an effective tool for boosting employee engagement and improving the way people are being recruited, trained, and retained in organizations around the globe. Panellist Rahul Sharma, Managing Director, LogMeIn India Pvt Ltd, offers the perspective that AI is a complementing technology to humans – not a replacement.
Increasingly, enterprises will see AI augmenting human employees and productivity than replacing them. The environment, Sharma says, is where productivity and processes will be ‘technology-enabled’ and ‘human-assisted’.
As Sumit Sood, Sr. V.P. & Head of Asia Pacific, GlobalLogic, puts it – the expectation of AI and its leverage must be analysed personally and professionally. As he sees it evolving, AI is changing the hierarchical ladder-like structure to a more evolved, human network where every individual is a human node.
Is the workforce ready for AI?
Seth believes employees have the edge since they have the ability and curiosity to ask questions. AI, on the other hand, has the ability to sort through mountains of data and offer solutions. It’s a priceless match! You just need to have what is required to work with a machine that thinks.
This is where upskilling of workforce plays a key role. Upskilling is not having employees enrol in AI or ML (Machine Learning) classes or a matter of finishing a course on Coursera – that’s theoretical. What enterprises and business leaders must realise is that employees need different skills to be relevant in the AI-driven business environment, like advanced problem-solving.
Unlocking the potential
In recent times, companies have been experimenting with AI to find new ways to improve employee engagement metrics. Ashwin Yardi, CEO – India, CapGemini, believes that AI is an opportunity that companies must embrace. Not only does it simplify finding the right candidate, it is also makes in-house task and project allocation – based on personality and learning style – seamless.
Even more than upskilling and reskilling, using AI internally is far more fruitful this way since it augments human intelligence and also enables targeted employee interventions.
No magic pill
Artificial Intelligence and human resources are unusual allies, yet industry leaders see AI being used in business strategy and processes easily. What’s noteworthy is that adopters expect AI to contribute new business growth as early as three to five years.
Several players have AI-based enterprise solutions, from sentiment analysis, analytics, real-time monitoring, and chatbots. Yet, for any enterprise, it is imperative that the use-case be identified first.
Enterprises must realise that AI is not a magic pill and will not cure problems automatically. In order to use AI effectively to solve business challenges and unlock employee potential, enterprises must have in-house ability to connect the dots.