Optimise human-machine collaboration

Digital Perspectives

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January 26, 2018
Optimise human-machine collaboration
By: Payal Vasudeva

It’s Time to Scale-Up ‘New Skilling’ to Optimise Human-Machine Collaboration

At WEF 2018 Accenture launched our latest report, Reworking the Revolution, which looks at how intelligent technology will intersect with human ingenuity to create the future workforce. Here, I’ve been looking at some highlights from the report, and asking what business can do to ensure they are preparing their workforce for a future where human-machine collaboration is commonplace.

In our poll of CEOs conducted for the report, we found that most think only a quarter of their workers are for the AI revolution; yet only 3% were looking to significantly ramp-up training efforts. This despite the fact that in a previous study we found that most people actively want to use AI tools at work, and are eager to re-skill in order to do so.

The importance of New Skilling

If businesses are to fill all the positions needed for the reconfigured, AI-enabled future workforce, then they will need to find new ways of training employees. These “New Skilling” programs must be rapid, flexible, tailored and large-scale to maximise the value humans and machines can create together.

Flexibility is essential: while executives currently see resource management, leadership and communication skills as the most important for their organisations over the next five years, who knows how this will develop as AI develops and human workers take on new roles? As a principle, however, businesses should assume that increasingly intelligent machines and more highly skilled humans will become the norm, and will drive swifter and more compelling innovation by enabling each other to do more complex and creative work.

Fresh approaches to New Skilling

As organisations set about creating the future workforce, new approaches will be essential. As a foundation, businesses will need to commit to working across primary, secondary and higher education to ensure the right skills are being taught to the next generation. There’ll also be a requirement to increase training budgets internally and create apprenticeships to widen the base of potential talent. The aim of all of this should be to scale-up New Skilling and extend the reach of training programmes.

Organisations should also look at how they can make training more effective. People rapidly forget what they learn if they’re not taught in the right way; a tendency that might be exacerbated by the sheer novelty of the skills they will be expected to learn in the future. At Accenture, we’ve looked to overcome this challenge through applying neuroscience research to improve the impact and effectiveness of our training programmes. We are now offering this ‘new skilling’ framework to clients. We have lowered the cost of training hours by more than 25 percent since we began expanding our digital learning channels, while increasing the number training hours its people spent by 40 percent.

What you can do

In our research, we’ve identified several ways that organisations can scale-up their New Skilling programmes. These include prioritising the skills targeted for development based on the AI applications an organisation intends to run, tailoring training to account for different levels of willingness and skill levels, and using digital tools such as virtual reality and augmented reality to boost learning. You can read the full advice by downloading the report here.

Artificial intelligence is redefining the nature of value creation at unparalleled scale and speed. It’s reshaping core business processes and has the potential to transform customer experiences. However, this potential will only be realised if businesses tap into employee enthusiasm around AI and drive significant workforce transformation. Those that do so effectively will be able to reap the benefits of human-machine collaboration to their fullest.

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