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As COVID-19 swept the globe, attention turned towards the progress of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence. With a rapid increase in development, we consider the impact it could have on the workforce.

During these unpredictable times, the digital world has developed like never before. As distancing becomes normal and physical proximity is deemed a risk, it’s inevitable that we’ve seen a rise in automated activities.

And yet, we’ve also seen a greater appreciation of human work. Never before have we been more thankful to those essential workers on the front lines of our society; particularly healthcare workers, supermarket staff, and delivery drivers.

We’ve also had to adapt like never before. The challenges posed by the virus have sent shockwaves through many industries, forcing businesses to think outside the box in order to survive.

Humans have been at the very centre of the innovative thinking, compassion, and problem-solving that has helped us through this crisis. So while an increase in automation is welcome, it’s also important to focus on investment on human services.

Will artificial intelligence remove jobs?

The World Economic Forum said in Future of Jobs Report 2018 that huge amounts of work would disappear – but that even greater volumes of work would appear.

The loss of some roles due to automation is inevitable. Ideally, the money saved by automation can mean an increased investment for newer roles. As automation and AI continues to grow, jobs should evolve to work alongside the digital world.

However, job losses due to automation are likely to increase in light of the pandemic. As budgets have tightened and investment in technology has increased, many companies could look to replace human staff with cost-efficient automation tools.

As our Decade of Courage Manifesto outlines, it’s vital to invest in humans and automation equally. The answer should always be to increase both human capability and digital services.

Can artificial intelligence help improve customer experience?

Algorithms and data sets can contribute to a bespoke and highly personalised customer experience. Using the right data, you can completely tailor your services around the individual. Companies such as Netflix and Amazon are using AI to assess customer data and provide hyper-personalised recommendations to customers.

Since AI is capable of analysing data far beyond human capacity, the customer experience has the potential to be significantly improved. Not only can AI deliver the job much more accurately, but in real time.

And while specialist stores can benefit from the expertise of experienced staff, chat bots can also effectively resolve many customer queries and complaints. It’s not uncommon for queries to follow a similar trend within each business – and many customer sales representatives spend much time answering the same questions.

A chat bot can can ultimately deliver a better experience, as customers can expect an instantaneous response – which is often a main concern.

The costs saved by implementing a chat bot or data analysing tools mean you can invest in more meaningful roles for your staff. Equally, the time saved can present an opportunity to spend more time improving the customer journey in other ways – like content writing or UX design.

Can automation protect your business?

With COVID-19 still circulating around our general population and a risk of a second spike, many companies are looking for ways to protect their business and staff.

Face-to-face contact is still advised against where possible, and so many consumers feel more comfortable using automated services – such as self-checkout machines or online banking. Even as cases decline, customers feel more comfortable shopping online or using automated services.

Investing in automation now can help protect your company in the event of another pandemic. Having the right tools in place can ensure business goes on in spite of any future distancing measures.

A fully-automated customer service journey means your business can continue regardless of circumstances – such as furloughing or redundancies. In addition, the costs saved by automation can help protect your company financially and keep things running at a low cost.

Finding the right balance

Despite automation and AI supporting areas like customer support and data analysing, we should always place humans at the front and centre of business.

An increase in automation shouldn’t mean a decrease in human services.

Using AI to analyse data can greatly enhance your customer journey – but an increased investment in human services can make it second to none. Harnessing the power of both digital and human capabilities can propel your services to another level.

For example, a speedy and efficient chat bot can answer the majority of your audience’s queries – but failing that, a friendly voice on the phone can make or break your reputation.

As robotics and automation grow rapidly, we should enhance both our human and digital worlds in tandem.

The digital world is moving fast. Stay one step ahead of the curve with our Decade of Courage Manifesto. Download a copy for free today.

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