As Artificial Intelligence rapidly evolves and becomes more integrated into businesses and everyday living, conversations on how this will affect the future of jobs and employees are becoming more pronounced. Beverley Dyke shares her take on the matter and gives her observations on how IBM is handling this transformation.
By Beverley Dyke
Business and technology are no longer isolated; our jobs are now digital. Whether you are a traffic warden wearing a camera, or working alongside a chatbot you call a colleague, your role is being shaped by an integrated business and technology architecture.
As humans, we are interested in how a business evolving to become an ecosystem of platforms will shape employees’ relationships with work. We want to have the conversation: Is Artificial Intelligence going to take my job?
I can’t help but think the days of ‘I know what I want to be when I grow up’ are over.
In part this is because I have seen jobs introduced, at scale, that we wouldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago: video-game designers, cyber security specialists, and the like. In fact, the pace of technology change is so rapid that experts claim 65% of students today will take on jobs that currently do not exist.
Artificial Intelligence may seem as likely as Marty McFly’s hover board, but the reality is that there are already driverless cars on the road today. The next generation probably won’t need to consider taxi driver background checks… because no such role will exist.
Welcoming the New Era
As consumers, we have witnessed first-hand digital disruption from Air BnB, Netflix and Uber; they have changed our behaviour, our perspectives and our productivity. However, at work, as employees, we often state that the change is causing ‘too much’ disruption alongside completing our day to day tasks.
The film “Hidden Figures” reminded us that being a computer was once someone’s job. It tells the story of a woman who learnt the computer programming language FORTRAN in her own time, to prepare for the technological computer shift. Technology may continue to reallocate work for humans in this manner, but lessons can be learnt from this story about employer’s redefining roles in isolation.
How will technology change our jobs?
It is comprehensible that with our current exponential pace of technology development, the types of roles we pursue as employees will change. Data is driving competitive advantage, but corporations will continue to trust their employees to turn these insights into actionable wisdom.
Leadership can inspire with their direction of travel by investing in living roadmaps for their organisation. Long gone are the days of ‘my five year vision’ – this vision will change, approximately every six weeks, and be co-created with employees. It should be developed and revisited to stay transparent and excite your teams about the decisions being made.
As employees, we will need to accept that our ways of working are likely to be in a constant beta state, and continuously re-skilling is part of everyday life. The skill holders are driving the conversations.
What we know already is that this integration shift does place a higher value on roles involving empathy or social interaction. A survey of the British workforce highlighted there has been a trend towards caring professions in the last two decades.
As with every prior world-changing technology, Artificial Intelligence carries major implications. Many of the questions it raises are unanswerable today and will require time, research and open discussion to answer.
Is Artificial Intelligence the answer?
There are a lot of conversations about the impact of Artificial Intelligence; ‘Humans Need Not Apply’ is a popular YouTube video which paints a dystopian view. IBM champions a move away from this dialogue to pioneer an era of man with machine.
We suffer from information overload in every aspect of our lives. Letting a machine process some of this for us to develop hypotheses and recommendations – has the potential to help us excel as humans in the workplace. IBM research has calculated that with a third of our decisions being right, a third being optimal, and a third being wrong, the market for better human decisions is worth $2 trillion.
IBM has prioritised Artificial Intelligence to the top of the agenda and invested in its talent strategy, enabling IBMers to habitually re-skill and adapt. IBM employees have access to view the hottest, on-demand skills and a personalised learning environment to continuously develop. IBM understands that for their customers to have a delightful experience with their digital transformations, IBM employees must do too.
So, how is IBM defining the jobs in the context of Artificial Intelligence?
In my line of work, I have seen how IBM is bringing Artificial Intelligence to life for businesses, and have observed how IBM has been guided by these three principles:
- Purpose – Knowledge that machines are meant to work with humans.
- Transparency – For analysis that helps us make evidence based decisions, we will always need to understand the source of the underlying data.
- Skills – Commitment to re-skilling and inspiring people, to ensure the machine’s reasoning can be explained and applied.
IBM’s technology, products, services and policies are designed to enhance and extend human capability, expertise, and potential.
If you are interested in defining and designing the jobs of the future, you now know of a company leading the way.
Beverley Dyke has been with IBM for over five years and is currently working as a Senior Strategy Consultant within IBM’s Talent & Engagement practice. She is passionate about applying a user centric approach to product design and delivery, and regularly uses IBM’s Design Thinking and Digital Change methodologies. She is known for her experience in organisational behaviour, using data insights to form strategies based on user activity and sentiment, and was recently a panelist at the London Watson Summit fishbowl debates, discussing the impact of AI on our view of work. In this blog she specifically shares her view on the impact of AI on employees and the types of conversations that should be happening around this topic.