In my previous blog I discussed a disconnect that’s emerging as firms start to adopt AI at scale. While workers are largely optimistic about the technology and are keen to reskill to exploit it at work, CEOs incorrectly believe only a few workers are ready for this transition. This disconnect threatens to slow the effective deployment of AI by enterprises.
There’s a huge opportunity here for business leaders to capitalise on employee interest in AI to build a new and more profitable future workforce. Employees are evidently impatient to work in an intelligent enterprise that can disrupt markets while improving their working lives. So, what can employers do to elevate their workforce through AI, and unlock the 38% increase in revenue we predict investment in AI can generate?
A shift in work content
The first, fundamental, step for business leaders to take is to reimagine what work means in a workplace where human-machine collaboration is the norm. While the media often equates the emergence of AI with job losses, the reality will be much more complex. Indeed, new research with the World Economic Form suggests that job losses will be much lower than some estimates suggest. This is because even as automation continues, demand for labour will increase in some parts of the value chain and in some locations.
At Accenture, we believe that the biggest impact of AI won’t be around job losses or gains; it’ll be around the content of jobs. The CEOs we spoke to for our new research report into this subject agree: nearly everyone interviewed reported they’ve re-designed jobs to some degree, with 29% having made extensive changes. Significantly, 61% of senior executives surveyed said the proportion of roles requiring people to collaborate with AI will rise in the next three years.
The challenge facing every business today is to look at their current roles and work processes and reimaging what they could be with AI. And, as we’ve seen, this reimagining isn’t about simply automating manual processes; it’s about elevating workers and truly transforming their roles so they can play a more active role in creating new customer value.
Take Morgan Stanley as an example. The financial services giant has introduced AI agents to augment the work of its financial advisors. These intelligent advisors are programmed to learn about Morgan Stanley’s clients and recommend to financial advisors a range of options that consider their clients’ changing financial situation. Brokers are thereby better placed to contact clients at the right time with more relevant advice.
But AI will do more than enrich existing human roles; it will also create entirely new ones. Human employees, for example, will be required to train intelligent algorithms and ensure that as they develop they stay true to their original goals without crossing ethical boundaries. It’s perhaps for this reason that 63% of business executives in our survey expect that AI will create net job gains in their organisation in the next three years.
The process of reimaging work can’t start soon enough. By putting in place a systematic approach to effective human-machine collaboration businesses will be able to unlock the value of AI rapidly and more completely.
The key is to move the focus from jobs to the nature of the work itself; before preparing workers with the necessary skills. This reconfiguration of work will require organisations identify the new kinds of tasks that must be performed; assessing tasks and skills rather than jobs. From there, businesses will be best placed to create new roles and map the requirements of these roles against existing skills; filling any gaps through recruitment and training.
To read in full the steps can take to reimagine work at your organisation please download our report: Reworking the Revolution.
Please also circle back for my next blog in this series, where I’ll take a look at the second key change businesses will need to undertake to make their businesses AI ready: pivoting the workforce to areas that create new forms of value.