Whether it is going online and buying that outfit you need, transferring money from your phone, or video calling your family that lives on the other side of the country, the new technological age that humans have found themselves in has drastically changed the way they live their daily lives. The entirety of the world has become accessible with just the small mobile device in your hand, allowing information to travel faster and further than ever before. These advances have also extended into the business marketplace. Managers can now use the technology and software available to track real-time analytics to see what is working best for their company and areas in which they can improve.
However, a new study from workflow-management firm ServiceNow found that about half of employees worldwide struggle to get their basic questions answered from their Human Resources (HR) or IT departments quickly, if at all. When an employee needs an answer immediately regarding something HR-related, they can often get frustrated with how long it takes to receive a response. HR people also get irritated with the mundane tasks of having to respond to emails with simple HR questions, distracting them from doing many other things such as actually driving strategy for the company.
Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting organizations and among the largest professional services networks in the world, recognizes how this technological new age can optimize its business processes. Deloitte’s response to ServiceNow’s findings is simple: let AI take care of the tasks that humans don’t need to waste time doing.
Deloitte’s implemented AI to improve employee experience (EX) by creating an A.I.-supported system called ConnectMe in 2016. With this new system, Deloitte is able to utilize real-time insights to provide personalized content and answers to each employee. The system can be customized for each employee situation and relieves HR professionals from having to play “phone tag” with their employees. The system eliminates employees from having to deal with multiple HR systems and promotes communication across the workforce by answering questions quickly so individuals are able to move on to more important tasks.
However, as AI continues developing and increasing its presence in the business world, there is looming danger of how significantly it can disrupt the workforce. Kai Fu Lee, AI expert and venture capitalist, says he believes 50% of all jobs will be automated by AI within 15 years. Jobs that will most likely be affected are insurance underwriting, warehouse and manufacturing jobs, customer service, research and data entry, and long-haul truck driving. Essentially any job that has tasks that can be programmed will be at threat of automation. The changing workforce of these professions will be akin to what the farmers experienced in the Industrial Revolution. So should every person in this profession be terrified of what is to come? Not as much as you think.
As much as AI is going to influence the workforce, it is not going to entirely eliminate jobs, but rather change them. Professions such as accountants, factory workers, truckers, and paralegals will have to evolve, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of these workers being tied to performing tedious repetitive tasks that are part of their overall duties, they can focus on the more complex projects that need creativity and ingenuity to resolve. Deloitte’s ConnectMe system did not put HR professionals out of business; rather, it allowed them to be more productive and helpful for the company. AI will not just transform jobs currently in the workforce, but it will also create jobs that we don’t even know exist yet.
As someone that is soon entering into the accounting workforce, I am excited for what the usage of AI in daily work activities will look like. Typically, data entry has always been seen as an unavoidable part of the job. However, now, instead of having to waste away precious hours typing in numbers or not knowing what benefit plan an employee is on, AI can retrieve the answer or has the ability to do it for me in a few short moments. Thus, this leaves me with more time to analyze the financials and solve any issues that come up.
Artificial intelligence will never possess the human touch–the ability to empathize, comprehend, and think critically in the moment of changing circumstances. This entails that humans will always have skill sets that no machine can ever replace. Instead, humans and machines will continue to operate in unison to maximize efficient business practices in the years to come. In doing so, this will better the opportunities and outcomes for both businesses and employees in this coming era of unprecedented change.