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Unmasking AI and Automation in the Workplace

Post Author Alicia Chan
Jan 30, 2018 1:39:57 PM
Workforce Insights
Automated Workforce-01

Employees aren't the only ones who need to be ready for the changes automation in the workplace will bring. Based on a survey of over 900 companies worldwide, less than 5 percent of companies who responded said their HR functions are fully prepared to tackle the needs of a digitalized workforce and roughly 30 percent have started to take action to prepare. Employers will not only have to analyze what job functions can be automated and how, but also address shifts in personnel needs, and changes to their hiring practices.

Learn the latest trends in automation and how to adapt with it.


Machine Learning and AI Moving Into The Office

A common misconception is that robots are only assuming positions in the manufacturing sector or retail space. Finance has already been impacted by this move, as seen in the form of ATMs causing banks to scale back their teller workforce, and now with machine learning, jobs such as financial analysts and other data heavy jobs may be changing. People have been using computers to process data for centuries, and now there are algorithms and programs that will do the heavy lifting on the analysis side to identify trends and make data driven decisions. There is even a Japanese insurance firm that is using IBM Watson’s Explore AI, which can analyze and interpret unstructured text, image, audio, and video, to calculate their insurance claim payouts. No industry will be completely untouched in this automated progression.

Creating New Opportunities for Contingent Workforce

Approximately 9% of work is done by artificial intelligence and robotics today, and according to the Global Future of Work Survey, from Willis Towers Watson, employers expect that number to increase to 17% by 2020. This growth not only affects workforce size but also encompasses changes to the employment type needed and skills necessary to keep up with the evolving work ecosystem. As the use of AI and robots rises, so will the need for freelance workers, contractors, consultants, and part time employees. Flexible workers with specialized skills will be needed to fill the gaps that automation leaves open. Companies can update their hiring practices by rethinking their business processes and revamping their talent management to engage top, independent talent.

More Robots Doesn’t Always Equal Less Humans

Just because you’re adding new technology to your workforce doesn’t mean that you have to subtract human employees. In many instances, automation is supplemental to work done by humans, and has also created brand new jobs that just require new skills. Now is the time to evaluate what tasks can be automated and building the framework to transition talent, whose work was automated, into other valuable segments of the business. One thing that will remain constant is a need for ongoing development of management and leadership to ensure that organizational goals are still being met and that employees are fully engaged in a changing, digitalized environment.

Only 5% of Occupations Could Be Fully Automated

According to findings from research company McKinsey and Company, only 5% of occupations could be fully automated with current technology, however 45% of activities performed across all occupations could be automated. Their findings also indicate that jobs that involve “managing and developing people, where expertise is applied to decision-making, planning, or creative work, or interacting with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders” are harder to convert to completely automated positions. The best approach to take when evaluating your business processes for robotic enhancement is focusing on time that could be saved on activities performed rather than an occupation that could be replaced.


Even though workplace automation continues to increase, HR professionals will still need to hire real humans. Instead of thinking about how artificial intelligence and machine learning can replace a position, think about how to incorporate technology into your existing infrastructure to take over specific tasks and ensure that your workforce retains the uniquely human skills necessary to complement the digital changes.

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