Throughout every industrial revolution in history, we’ve seen how man and machine have combined their efforts to make advancements that changed the world as we’ve known it. Yet with each revolution also came mass fear that technological change would be a threat to human livelihood. The resulting reality, however, has in fact always been growth and enriched human capability.
The fourth industrial revolution we’re now a part of - digitalisation - has been no different. Despite initial fears that artificial intelligence (AI) was here to replace a human workforce with robots, like advancements before it, AI has its best impact when working to support and augment human skills - the kind of skills that technology has little chance of replacing any time soon.
In fact, with our powers combined, there’s not much about AI-enabled technology that doesn’t work in favour of humans. We’re already seeing how AI has the power to make our jobs easier through automation, enable greater, more personal consumer experiences, and help organisations leverage incredible amounts of data.
Optimised through automation
Process automation in the form of digital employees is on the rise - but those organisations that think they can implement AI at the cost of their human workforce are likely to only see short-term productivity gains. That’s because organisations achieve the most significant performance improvements when their digital and human employees work collaboratively.
The role of a digital employee is really to take care of the repetitive, mundane and time-consuming operational tasks of a role, while freeing up human counterparts to attend to tasks that require more creative thinking, emotional intelligence or problem solving skills. AI isn’t taking over their role, rather augmenting it and giving them greater space to better explore their human potential.
The idea of leveraging technology to provide a more personal experience may sound counter-intuitive, but AI is transforming the way that consumers interact with brands to deliver more personalised engagements.
AI-driven digital employees put consumers back in control of customer service. Consumers are able to engage with a digital assistant in much the same way they would a human helpdesk responder, at any time, on a platform that suits them. The difference being that a digital responder immediately picks up from where the last conversation left off, and provides instant hyper-personalised, contextual responses to meet their needs. When the query becomes too complex, the conversation is escalated to a human responder who is best suited to answer handle the query. Reduced wait times and first-contact resolution result in a far more enriching, customer-centric experience.
What’s more, with access to data that creates a clear picture of an individual’s behaviour, organisations can also proactively target product or service offerings, up-sell or cross-sell to the right people, at the right time.
Trends and tech that lead to disruption
What comes naturally to machines - analysing unlimited amounts of data - is practically impossible for humans to do with the same level of speed. Previous Business Intelligence (BI) models required many man-hours (and cost) to achieve what AI-driven BI can now do using algorithms to learn more about customer behaviour.
With the ability to collect, collate and breakdown masses of real-time data into actionable insights, organisations have at their fingertips a better means to discover and analyse new trends. When consistent and complete data is combined with a human’s capability to ideate and think creatively, an organisation is ideally positioned to uncover product development ideas and make decisions about customer-centric initiatives that can help separate them from the competition.
Smart machines are helping us as humans expand our abilities. And smart organisations are already taking advantage of AI to support and enable a more efficient, productive and capable workforce who is free to focus on cognitive strengths and humanistic skills.
Those who are turning to AI to displace their workforce are missing out on the collaborative potential that comes from combining the best of both man and machine to transform their operations and expand their impact.
If you’re looking for insight into how AI could strengthen your business capabilities, we’ve got more on the potential of AI for business on our blog.