Benefits of AI in the workplace could include improving focus on jobs that matter, removing human error and transforming productivity
We’ve read plenty of headlines stoking up the flames ahead of the impending job cull that artificial intelligence could bring but it’s not all bad news. Ved Sen, a “digital evangelist” at Tata Consultancy Services, argues AI in the workplace will create numerous benefits
Artificial Intelligence, driven by a host of underlying technologies, represents a huge and exciting leap forward for businesses and society at large.
Despite the rumours that have surrounded AI for years, employers, and most importantly employees, all actually stand to benefit from the introduction of the technology to the workplace.
Many have speculated that the implementation of AI will cost millions of jobs, but according to Gartner it will create an estimated 2.3 million jobs, comfortably outweighing the 1.8 million they predict will be lost.
However, AI’s business impact can’t be measured in job creation alone.
At TCS, we’ve seen that when correctly implemented, AI has the potential to improve businesses across all levels of the organisation.
How AI in the workplace can help focus on the jobs that matter
Conservative estimates predict that AI could save up to 300,000 employee hours and millions of dollars annually.
By freeing up their capacity, employees will be able to focus on long-term challenging and creative tasks, rather than spending time and energy on administrative or repetitive ones.
Imagine the time you’d save if, for example, you didn’t have to double-check your spreadsheets?
Or if you didn’t have to write your weekly or monthly time sheets?
Or finding a common meeting time for five people based on their diaries and locations?
In short, rather than replacing jobs, AI will be replacing tasks.
AI can even serve as an automated feedback loop, helping companies understand whether their employees are happy in their positions.
One company working on this technology, IBM, says it can currently predict how likely people are to quit with a 95% accuracy rate.
With AI’s help, not only will people be more productive at work, they’ll hopefully be happier too.
AI in the workplace could help to upskill
While AI does the more repetitive tasks, employees can invest the time they save being trained in using new technology.
In fact, 54% of employees will require significant training to upgrade or gain new skills, 35% of which will require an additional six months of training.
With over half of a given business’ workforce needing training, we’re seeing companies investing in it today to save time and money further down the line.
Despite the initial investment costs in this strategy, studies show that by taking these risks, companies can increase revenues by 38%.
Some companies are beginning to come to terms with this trend and adapt to the new business landscape with AI.
As this develops, businesses will have to be agile, with 90% already planning to fundamentally change their business model in the next one to five years, according to a new study from Tata Consultancy Services.
Part of this adjustment to the business model is upskilling your workers and changing how they work.
Prevent you from making that career-ending mistake
Human error still contributes to a surprisingly high amount of corporate losses.
Take, for example, Metro Bank, which confirmed in January that an accounting error contributed to a 50% drop in its quarterly profits at the end of last year.
Errors may seem trivial to some observers but in this particular case, the bank’s pre-tax profits halved compared to the previous year and since the accounting issue was announced, the bank’s shares have lost about 70% of their value.
Casualties like these put pressure on the company and employees tend to suffer the real consequences of what is often no more than an unfortunate accident.
These are not the only mishaps that can happen at work. AI can also protect employees from injury in the workplace.
Most workplace accidents happen at the fault of a human process.
AI can reduce the chances of these happening, either by alerting employees that they are approaching a task dangerously or by doing dangerous tasks instead of human employees altogether.
AI in the workplace will transform human potential
Long before any significant number of jobs are threatened by AI, it will help us to perform tasks and roles to levels which we could never have dreamed of before.
Whether that is preventing patient mortality in hospitals, routing and fuel efficiency of goods vehicles or correctly allocating project budgets, over time AI will help us to do these jobs at accuracy and at performance levels that are out of reach today.
This will largely happen with human-AI combinations, or “human in the loop” processes, rather than by either humans or AI.
As we speak, AI is being trialled for conducting interviews, selecting respondents for medical trials, and identifying food that is likely to go bad on supermarket shelves.
These may not all be successful, but we believe that enough will be for it to affect real change for businesses.
By talking transparently about AI to their employees, business leaders have a real opportunity to save time and increase revenue, without risking jobs.
For instance, if employees are given the chance to point out the routine tasks that AI can takeover, AI will become a truly supportive addition.
If employers are able to demonstrate the upskilling potential, the process of implementation is a lot more likely to be embraced.
And when it comes to eliminating the risk for human error, that’s something that we’ll all support.
There’s been a lot of fear-mongering and debate in the media on how AI will affect employees, but when you consider the successful implementations of AI that we’ve been a part of here at TCS, the outlook is a lot more positive than commonly thought.