It’s understandable why people feel a little freaked out by automation when it comes to the unsteady employment horizon, but that feeling actually distracts from how this tech can benefit workplace productivity.
On the one hand, the World Economic Forum’s employment trends show that, by the year 2020, a total of 7.1 million jobs will be lost to disruptive labour market changes, like artificial intelligence (AI), and only two million new jobs will be created. On the other hand, Gartner says it will more than even out, with only 1.8 million people being automated out of work while it also creates 2.3 million jobs—and a net gain of 500,000 new jobs sounds way better than the Forum’s dismal 5 million jobs lost forever.
Don’t let the headlines about job loss to automation distract your team from what a game changer automation can be for workplace productivity. Go after the tangible impacts of AI, automation, and machine learning to give your users the best tools for their work and boost the efficiency and innovation of your business. Forget the fear—focus on the elements of AI that decision-makers can implement to improve how your business runs.
Own your data
Is the phrase “the more data you have, the better off you’ll be” old enough to be an adage yet? Either way, it’s not 100 percent right. The quality and use of your data trump quantity any day—and whether you own it or not is most important of all. Ensure that each vendor contract with your business gives you exclusive ownership of your data and also allows you access to it. Depending on what your organisation does, a reputable vendor should provide daily data on sales, logistics, delivery information, etc.
While you’re taking control of your data, make sure you use strict naming conventions. AI bots work best with squeaky clean data—down to the letter. Think about the little things, like capitalisation, spelling variances of client names, plurals, apostrophes, and special characters, such as commas or hyphens. Once you’re sure your data actually belongs to you and is organised efficiently, you can upload it to your AI bots for processing (manual human monitoring not required).
Don’t save the world, just improve your business
Don’t get sucked into the hype that AI will result in Terminator 2: Judgment Day or that robots will analyse your data to give you information that makes your life easier.
Map out your existing business processes and look for inefficiencies. With the right tools, you can analyse large sets of data and come up with suggestions by looking at aberrations from a mean. For example, if your company is in logistics, then you may discover that refueling on Tuesdays saves you 5 percent on petrol costs. In short, use your data to solve genuine business problems.
Expect the unexpected
Deep learning is a subset of computer science mathematics within AI that looks at large sets of data for patterns you wouldn’t usually expect. If your company sells soft drinks and you have clean, accessible data, for example, then you could upload that information to an AI bot to “crunch,” but smart operators would also upload metadata about their sales.
This could be demographic information about your distributors or where your soft drinks are delivered. You could also connect to open API feeds, like Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) or Bureau of Statistics (BOS). This may allow an AI bot to discover that your soft drink sales increase by one million dollars a day for every one degree increase in temperate above 25 degrees centigrade.
Data is the fuel that powers all AI technologies. The goal for IT decision-makers is to:
- Ensure their data is in order
- Ensure their data is high quality and pristine
- Solve genuine business problems and inefficiencies using AI and good quality data
- Future-proof the business using data and AI processes to discover unexpected patterns
This isn’t the time for fear of automation and job loss; there’s never been a better time to be in tech, nor a better time to take advantage of what modern technology can offer your business. From security and mobility to device management software and managed services, the AI and automation business solutions available to your business have never been more advanced.