Companies are just starting to use intelligent machines—information systems that sense, comprehend, act and learn—to automate some of the more routine, rules-based tasks that take up so much of managers’ time. Coordinating processes, monitoring performance, and scheduling resources and activities are prime candidates for automation. With such applications, companies will save money. But intelligent machines will also free managers to focus on more strategic issues and activities. That’s the game-changing opportunity.
Our first-of-its-kind study of the impact of cognitive computing in management revealed three issues that might impede a successful union of manager and machine.
Managers have an incomplete understanding of what they will need to thrive in a partnership with intelligent machines. Only about a fifth of those we surveyed thought social networking, people development and collaboration would be important to their roles in the future.
There's a trust gap within the managerial ranks. Only 14 percent of first-line managers and 24 percent of middle managers agree strongly that they would trust the advice of intelligent systems in making business decisions in the future. Nearly half of senior executives (46 percent) strongly agree.
Given how recently intelligent machines have entered the scene, there is no clear path to realizing the opportunity from automation and augmentation. Leaders should look for ways to move forward despite the uncertainty.
Develop the right skill set.
Managers need skills that will drive organizational performance and interpersonal skills to build teams, foster innovation and encourage new ways of working.
Rally the troops.
Leaders must tap their own interpersonal skills to inspire their managers and create excitement about how intelligent machines will shape the future of work.
Embrace the unknown.
Leaders and their managers must be willing to experiment to identify machine uses that make the most sense for their organizations and their teams. A “fail fast” approach will help them zero in on the higher-value opportunities.
In August/September 2015 the Accenture Institute for High Performance surveyed 1,770 first-line, middle-level and executive-level managers from 14 countries, representing 17 distinct industries. The goal of this survey was to assess the potential impact of cognitive computing on these managers’ jobs, and also understand their perceptions of their current tasks and skills, as well as the future of their positions. For the purposes of the survey, we defined intelligent machines as computers and applications that collect and analyze data, make informed decisions or recommendations for action, and learn from experience.LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ACCENTURE INSTITUTE FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE