Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to dominate headlines and discussions on the future of tech and digital business. Organizations of all sizes and industries grapple with separating hype from reality and knowing when to adopt and invest in AI technologies.
This year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 was no different. AI was at the center of panels, breakout sessions and hallway conversations. Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard, EVP and global head of research at Gartner, attended the forum and shared with us the technology-related headlines and why AI is top of mind for so many world leaders.
Will AI eliminate jobs from the labor force en masse?
The press has been rifled with a job replacement scenario, but that’s far from the truth. We recognize that some jobs will be lost, but AI is intended to augment human capabilities. It increases our productivity, and helps us perform our jobs more quickly and with more accuracy. That’s true for all job types — not just those deemed blue collar, but knowledge workers as well.
AI will spur job creation. In 2020, it will create 2.3 million jobs
Many of my conversations in Davos revolved around this topic, as leaders of organizations want to know what the human impact of technology will be, especially for tech as disruptive as AI. The good news is that AI will spur job creation. In 2020, it will create 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating 1.8 million. That’s a net growth of half a million new positions.
What type of skill and experience will those new positions require?
It’s important to remember that the future of work is one in which human beings will remain at the center of that work. However, what we do and how we do it will significantly change. This calls for technical knowledge in specific AI technologies and expertise in areas such as data science and data quality maintenance. When 10 years from now, two out of three jobs will be classified as nonroutine, people will be required to do more thinking and less doing.
In some instances, sourcing this talent will require retraining existing employees — a responsibility that lies with both CIOs and heads of HR. Together, they must both create and own a clear strategy for building and retraining the necessary talent. Consider the job of AI engineers. Once coding becomes an automated task, they will need to upskill in order to effectively apply their skills and experience to new roles and challenges.
How can organizations prepare to take advantage of AI?
This was a running theme throughout the 2018 WEF. Although AI continues to garner interest from leaders across all industries and geographies, the technology is still in its infancy. In fact, few organizations have implemented wide-scale AI projects. However, many CIOs are considering taking on an AI pilot or have one underway.
To gain the most from AI,
apply the tech to key business priorities
Those hesitant about, yet interested in, pursuing an AI initiative can look to AI pioneers. They’ve forged a path of adoption, making mistakes along the way that we can learn from. These early adopters offer valuable insights for CIOs about to begin their AI journey:
- To gain the most from AI, apply the tech to key business priorities.
- Move beyond the common definition of AI as automation or you will easily miss hidden opportunities.
- Aim for soft outcomes such as improvements to processes, customer satisfaction, products and financial benchmarking.