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Artificial intelligence is no longer a concept relevant exclusively to the likes of developers and coders; it’s making positive inroads into all facets of modern life in ways never before imagined. From helping physicians diagnose diseases to protecting borders with robot dogs, AI is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
This extends into our professional lives, too, perhaps without us even knowing it. It’s already widely used in processes like candidate screening, sales acceleration and customer experience, to name just a few areas.
These are welcome and encouraging developments, but what’s the next AI frontier for leaders in the business community?
Moving forward responsibly
As I look to what 2022 will bring, I believe that we need to steer this fast-moving tech ship responsibly, even as we stay bold and brave in exploring the art of the possible.
In the private sector, we can expect businesses in all areas to use AI as a vehicle to speed up the discovery of new relationships and connections, as well as to elevate the user experience. It will be put to work in back offices, proactively flagging issues and finding creative solutions to problems invisible to the human eye.
We can also expect the traditional call center model of customer interactions to become the exception rather than the norm. Instead of relying on human agents, companies will shore up the might of robot armies to take care of the repetitive work and so free up valuable human resources for other tasks, and that’s a positive. After all, good and happy people are hard to find and even harder to hold on to, especially in the current U.S. labor market and many global markets.
Most of us would agree that happy people rarely quit. So, why not explore ways to use AI benevolently to improve your employees’ happiness quotient and productivity while simultaneously giving them a greater sense of purpose — a more compelling reason to get up and go to work in the morning? I look forward to the day when the first cup of coffee is not to get us going but to help us enjoy what lies ahead.
“How may I be of AI assistance?”
We’ve all heard about driverless cars, but in the coming years service robots, in my opinion, are going to be bigger than anything else we have seen, and they’re already circling among us. Go down to your local home improvement depot and you may well encounter one as you stroll the aisles. With a tablet attached to its “stomach,” these robots scan inventory, answer simple questions and help customers find products.
We’ll see more of them in our restaurants, too, doing everything from flipping French fries to delivering food to tables and bringing dirty dishes back to the kitchen.
Another area where AI and robotics have the potential to add value is in the realm of personal safety. And this goes well beyond just keeping fast-food cooks away from the scalding hot fryer oil: AI is set to revolutionize the field of security. This includes the introduction of facial recognition systems and high-tech robotic guards like those being deployed by the U.S. government on our southern border. We’ll also see more robots being used to perform military operations, such as intelligence and surveillance. As the underlying technology continues to be honed, they’ll continue to learn and begin talking to us more easily.
Answering the “Why?”
What’s possible in this discussion is only limited by the scope of our imagination, so take a look around you at the kinds of jobs people are still doing. Why are they doing them? Could they be doing something more rewarding and valuable and leaving what’s less exciting to artificial intelligence of one kind or another?
Employees should answer the question of why they’re doing the work they’re doing, and if they don’t like the answer, it’s time for them to explore options. Soon, AI will pick up the work nobody wants, resulting in employees having more opportunities to pursue what matters to them.
Hybrid teams can help
While these advances are exciting, we should accept that there’s a divide between people who are comfortable in welcoming AI into the workplace and those who prefer to do things the legacy way. That’s natural and understandable. There’ll always be those who can’t or won’t change. Not everyone has the requisite open-mindedness and agility to adapt.
This is where leaders need to step up and educate their people about the “why” as they go about their digital transformation.
But you also have to hire the right people — those who have the ability to adapt and are prepared to take a leap of faith. Establishing a hybrid model, for example, will require hiring, empowering and rewarding people who might have little to no AI business experience under their belt, but are excited to embrace change. Having the right team and right people is the key to success in embracing new tech.
There’s a goldmine of business opportunities waiting for people and companies willing and able to invest in AI. It’s here, and it’s happening — moving from the big screen to everyday life. Embrace it and you’ll be better prepared for the brave new world to come.