Suman Reddy Eadunuri, Managing Director & Country Head, Pegasystems
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Who knew that his words will hold true even 150 years later?
We are on the brink of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and one should accept the reality that for firms to stay relevant to the times, they will have to adapt and embrace. A firm can stay future proof only by appreciating that the ultimate on-boarding of technology is not just indispensable but a survival strategy. Technological advancement and digitization are not here to intimidate; they are here to stay. They are here to remind us that the only thing constant is “change”.
Reskilling- the only strategy
The impact of automation and AI on jobs is not new and neither is the need to ‘reskill’ workforce in the IT sector is passe. As the technology landscape transforms at an increasing pace each year, and with the advent of AI and automation there is a need to reinvent oneself. This is true for individuals as well as organisations.
Historically, or at least since the Industrial Revolution, every single major change has resulted, in the immediate short-term scepticism over loss of business, livelihood and jobs. But, in the long run, each of these innovations created a generation of positive impact that was several times more than the initial negative effect. For instance, when computers first came in, everyone said they will take away jobs. While there were some job losses initially, today IT and related industries are some of the largest employers globally. The same applies to the transportation industry, which is one of the largest employment generating sectors in the world. In fact most largescale technology adoptions have usually resulted in an increased levels of opportunities and wider wealth distribution.
A Future-ready workforce
The impact of disruption due to innovation from a pure IT focus to digital transformation is comparable to the invention of the Ethernet 44 years ago. The far reaching impact of what the IT industry is today grappling with, on every accept of human endeavour, can only be studied, evaluated and understood in retrospect, couple of decades from now. However, contrary to popular belief, digitisation and automation too, like every other invention, are opportunities for humans to move on from repetitive and quantifiable work to more creative and non-linear activities. Humans created these machines and they are far superior in terms of cognitive intelligence, analytical abilities and creative thinking.
As far as the IT sector is concerned, companies cannot afford to ignore focusing on reskilling. It is the other way round. In fact, because every day you do not upskill, regardless of whether you are an employee or an organization, you are prone to regressing and if the same lack of momentum continues whereby the new skills are not on-boarded, there is big chance that you will be redundant to your organization. So reskilling/upskilling is not an option, it is a must-do for every individual and organisations.
Automation and the workforce of the future are not far-off propositions. Companies have already begun implementation of “digital-labor” in the form of RPA, machine learning, or other AI, and as they do so they must simultaneously consider how these new models of human and digital labor will function by co-existing.
Most traditional tasks will become automated leading to creation and definition of new roles. Human workers will assume specific higher-value and will be enhanced by their digital counterparts.
Democratization of A2 (AI and Automation)
While AI has become somewhat synonymous with automation, it’s important not to lose sight of its strategic potential. We expect to see more and more companies using AI to augment strategic planning.
Questions regarding ethics, trust, and transparency will only continue to grow as AI becomes more widespread. Business leaders must begin addressing all facets of what we call Responsible AI.
There is huge potential for AI to augment human judgment. Businesses are increasingly deploying AI to gain better insights into customer needs and provide more personalized service, sales, and marketing. However not all AI models are built with the levels of transparency they may need to fully understand how AI makes its decisions – a trait that’s particularly critical in highly regulated industries. AI requires a transparency that would help companies mitigate potential risks and maintain regulatory compliance while providing differentiated experiences to their customers.
Transparent AI is when the technology is required to explain its decisions and how it reached them. It can explain exactly how it's using data to make decisions or predictions. The transparency scores will help guide business users to build AI systems using the right models that meet their organization’s transparency requirements while still delivering exceptional customer experiences.
The India Perspective
So how do we, as individuals, organisations, industry and a nation prepare for this period of flux? First by acknowledging that we are heading for one. The fact that technology shift is at a tipping point and transition will not be incremental but quantum.
The IT industry is at the cusp of another tectonic shift that has the potential to transform literally every aspect of its business. It is critical that we examine this impending shift, understand its possible impact and prepare for it. On many fronts India has managed to keep pace with this revolution.
But I can confidently state today and with proof that India needs to unleash the shored up potential, the vast potential in its R&D. Today, it is not just an enabler but is using its potential of decision-making. It has the best brains, passion, hunger and means to excel. Small hiccups like IT layoffs cannot throw it off-guard. There can be minor inconveniences such as the layoff phase we witnessed in 2017, but what is more important to remember is that it is not just the largest market for AI but also the largest R&D repository to develop AI. So long as we as a nation do not lose sight of our strengths, we can and we will lead.