Since the invention of the printing press in the 1400s, humans have been steadily getting better and better at making their jobs easier through technology. Alright, maybe it was the creation of the wheel that got things moving (pun intended), but the point still stands.
It’s mind-boggling to think that once upon a time, just to distribute your message to a crowd of people, your only option was to get a bunch of your scribe buddies together to hand-write copies and distribute them. Now you can easily type up a manifesto on whatever your heart desires, press “publish” on one of a million platforms, and have your message seen by, sometimes literally, the entire world.
Artificial Intelligence is one of those types of technology we’ll someday wonder how we ever managed to survive without. AI is popping up in every area of life, from your phone’s voice assistant to healthcare administration, to national security. Applying this incredible technology in the business world is becoming more and more commonplace, and it’s revolutionizing some businesses while others, the slow adopters, are being left in the dust.
One of the main hangups people have in terms of using and relying on AI is a lack of trust. Bits and pieces of pop culture like Space Odyssey‘s murderous HAL 9000 or the heartbreaking Samantha in Her paint a picture of Artificial Intelligence growing to exist on its own with us instead of for us, or in the worst cases, turning against and overtaking us.
While a quick YouTube search pulls up conspiracy theories about AI that range from laughable to believable, there’s no denying that Artificial Intelligence is an incredible business tool. Many businesses are reaping the benefits of this technology while others are either unsure how to or skeptical of implementing it for themselves.
AI’s impact in the workplace
As anyone who’s held a job in a busy office knows, there’s a seemingly endless tsunami of tasks looming over you at almost all times. Keeping up with your seven Slack channels, the back-and-forth circus that is trying to schedule meeting times, updating a million spreadsheets with the same data, following mindless-but-labor-intensive workflows … There are many moving parts, and AI helps simplify this.
By taking on mundane, repetitive tasks, AI frees up time workers would otherwise spend on mindless, necessary evils, allowing them to do more important, strategic work. On another level, though, AI also enables previously-impossible tasks like pulling and analyzing data from multiple, unrelated sources and creating relevant dashboards with the information.
Salesforce’s Einstein platform is an example of this technology. Einstein has a smart voice assistant that controls meetings hands-free and automatically updates a company’s CRM based on voice notes from sales reps. The abilities of Einstein include intelligent support bots that assist customers based on a knowledge base and manage tickets for human support.
If you think that sounds cool, you should hear about their visual recognition features. For example, they can tell when a car returned to a rental location is damaged by analyzing an image of the car.
AI isn’t just a fun novelty: abilities like these not only free up time to focus on more important work, they also give incredible insight that until recently was unheard of. This gives companies the opportunity to take a never-before-seen deep dive into their own statistics, providing a more clear path forward.
As the marketplace continues to grow and evolve, having an edge on the competition is going to be the difference between reaching success and falling into the wasteland of failed companies. AI has the power to be that edge on the competition.
What are they missing?
Despite all the benefits of AI, there are still many companies and individuals who balk at integrating this new technology. As discussed above, much of this is the result of a lack of trust of anything unfamiliar. This clearly isn’t a good reason. My grandpa takes four times longer than anyone else to do his taxes because he insists on double-checking the calculator, and the hesitance to adopt AI in any form is along the same lines of misplaced distrust.
One reason people don’t trust AI is their belief it will take our jobs. They’re not wrong – according to Forbes, AI is expected to replace 77 million jobs by 2022. Machines are estimated to handle 42% of work tasks by the same year, and that number will increase to 52% by 2025. It sounds scary, right?
There’s a good reason your mom always told you not to believe everything you hear. While the numbers above are reliable, they’re not the whole picture. For example, while AI will replace 77 million jobs by 2022, it will also create 133 million new jobs. That’s almost double what it will take away.
The key for workers to riding the wave of new jobs instead of falling off the map as old jobs become obsolete is working on increasing relevant skills. No matter how many skills you have and how proficient you are at them, if they’re not in demand, no one will want them.
The same is true on the business level. If a business is using the same old methods to achieve the same old results in the same old industries, their fears of being replaced by new technology will come true. It’s crucial for companies to be evolving with technology instead of fighting against it. Embracing AI, even if starting slowly with a few tools here and there, is key to staying relevant and therefore afloat in today’s world.