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Automatic for your people: Everyday AI

August 28, 2019 Jim Warner
Amazon Alexa Echo Plus on a wooden table with green plants in the background

As a child of the ’80s, I fondly remember things like New Coke, Rubik’s Cubes, and MTV playing actual music. I also remember Detroit as a juggernaut of the car industry. My aunt and uncle were both employed by GM, burning hours, and collecting overtime turning out 88s and Impalas. Somewhere between my last summer visit with them in 1986 and seeing them at my graduation party in 1994, the world changed for the Motor City. 

The factors were numerous, but one refrain kept coming back in the conversations my family had (and continued to have), “we’re being replaced by machines.”

Eventually, my aunt and uncle were able to get back on their feet—a willingness to relocate and learn helped them weather the storm. I also know that not everyone was as fortunate.

The stark fate of automation has long since placed America’s middle class in its crosshairs. As we find ourselves at the onset of the Age of AI, the bullseye has grown larger, seeing collars white and blue equal parts of the target. More and more, the demand for C-suite understanding of AI and technology means adaptation not at just the worker-bee level. Leadership needs to have increased knowledge of technology and its ramifications in the adoption/adaptation phase.

Is this just future shock? A hangover from 80s recession-era unemployment meeting sci-fi dystopia? Are we marching towards a Terminator/Skynet-esque future? Should we anticipate the uneasy embrace of robot overlords?

Perhaps a less bleak outlook can be gleaned from where AI and automation are already being applied in business today. Automation and AI are working to streamline current processes and workflows. With all the Alexas and Siris in the home, AI is rapidly bringing change to how customer service functions and responds to consumers. Machine learning is driving personalization—offering the customer more detailed choices. 

AI has increased demand for staff with higher-level cognitive skills. It has also placed increased importance on social skills. The workforce will need to be equipped with those traditional soft skills and reporting in clear, concise language.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute report, by 2030, there will be a 19% increase in the demand for higher cognitive skills, including creativity and critical thinking.

Typically, we only think about technological skills as the high demand skillset moving forward for our workforce. The truth of the matter is that those who can think creatively, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively will be essential to business growth. The most successful companies will be able to have leadership that can bring such a team together, with an increased focus on agile, adaptable team dynamics. This concept is only accented by AI’s increased implementation into the daily workflow.

At this point, leadership which can see AI for what it is — a tool which gives your most valuable resource (your personnel) the time to think, adapt, and problem solve. Time, like your team, is a finite resource. Being able to add hours to the creative clock by taking the repetitive act out of their hands means a stronger, more efficient worker, with time to act beyond reflexive motion.

AI is a partner of change, not just an independent agent, and indeed not the master of our destiny. 

Managing Change in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a half-day workshop presented by UofL Executive Education on October 16th. This workshop is essential for business leaders, managers, and executives looking to gain and maintain their competitive advantage as they successfully integrate AI and technological advances into their business strategy. Be prepared and stay relevant with workshop insights presented to assist decision-makers with embracing AI adoption at scale.

For more information and to register: https://business.louisville.edu/aiworkshop


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