The workplace is undergoing a profound transformation. In the past few years, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have started disrupting industries across the board. Work as it once was and now exists, will soon be over.
It’s predicted that in two years, 2025, over 95% of all customer interactions will be handled without human agents!
As innovation continues rapidly changing the nature of work, both employers and employees need to understand these new technologies and adapt accordingly. How can businesses prepare for the AI-driven future of work?
AI and Automation Reshaping Business Operations
One of the biggest technological forces shaping the future of work is artificial intelligence (AI) and automation (as seen in this Chamber of Commerce report on AI). AI refers to computer systems that can perform tasks normally requiring human cognition and decision making. As AI capabilities advance, more routine business functions are becoming automated.
A McKinsey report provides insights into how automation and AI will transform jobs and skills needed in the future. It predicts new labor demand that could spur job creation as well as declines in some routine manual and service roles.
AI Transforming Customer Service and Marketing
In customer service, chatbots powered by AI deliver swift, personalized support. How do chatbots provide better customer experiences? They can respond to routine inquiries instantly 24/7. With access to customer data, they can also offer tailored recommendations. As chatbot capabilities grow, the need for call center staff may decline.
Marketing teams are utilizing AI for data analysis and dynamic content creation. AI can track customer engagement to refine content and target optimal demographics. For ad creation, AI systems can generate countless personalized variations to test. Will AI make human marketers obsolete? While AI takes over analytical and administrative tasks, creatives are still needed for strategic roles. New positions like AI trainers are also emerging.
A Gartner article outlines key trends that will change how people work over the next decade, like the shift to more cognitive tasks and the need for constant digital upskilling.
Intelligent Process Automation Boosting Efficiency
Across operations like accounting, logistics, and administration, robotic process automation (RPA) is taking over repetitive, rules-based tasks. For instance, RPA can automatically transfer data between systems, saving employees countless hours.
But how far can RPA go? With intelligent process automation, systems can even make complex decisions by combining RPA with AI capabilities. This allows for end-to-end automation of entire workflows. Humans still need to manage these automated systems and handle exceptions. But with the right implementation, employees can focus their time on innovation and impactful projects.
Reskilling Employees for the Future
As automation changes the skills in demand, companies need to invest in reskilling and upskilling their people. What are some best practices for employee training?
A DNI report examines how technologies are changing where work can be performed, enabling more remote work and virtual collaboration.
Cultivating Adaptability and Digital Literacy
With job roles rapidly evolving, adaptability is now a crucial capability. Employees should continuously learn new skills to stay relevant. Digital literacy is also essential to leverage new technologies. Companies can provide training programs, online courses, and coaching on topics like data analytics, digital marketing, and AI implementation. To promote a culture of learning, managers can allow time for developing new skills and use coaching frameworks to support growth.
Rethinking Workflows and Organizational Structures
To fully benefit from intelligent automation, workflows and structures may need redesigning. Cross-functional teams should be empowered to innovate without organizational silos.
More agile frameworks like design thinking can enhance adaptation. How can leadership spearhead these changes? Executives will need to model agile and collaborative values while providing training in new methodologies. They should also solicit feedback from all levels to improve processes.
The Future Workforce
While some roles will decline, new AI-driven jobs will be created across industries. Creativity, critical thinking, and human interaction are skills that will remain invaluable. A Deloitte report discusses AI adoption and the expansion of on- and off-balance-sheet talent as forces shaping the future of work.
Decline of Routine Manual Labor
Repetitive manual tasks in manufacturing, construction, and service industries are most susceptible to automation. However, robots working alongside humans can improve safety and productivity, even allowing for easier-to-manage “side hustles.” How can workers upskill for hybrid roles? With training in areas like troubleshooting bots, analytics, and creative problem-solving, humans can oversee technology and handle non-routine cases.
Rise of Hybrid Roles
Many new roles will involve collaboration between people and technology. For example, AI trainers will teach systems to enhance capabilities. We will also see hybrid creative-technical roles combining human ingenuity with data-driven decision making. What innovations could these new roles enable?
Hybrid roles could pave the way for everything from intelligent personal assistants to self-driving cars and beyond. But only if the workforce has the right blend of soft and technical abilities. A SHRM article provides a balanced perspective on how technology could augment human skills vs. replace jobs entirely.
Conclusion: Emerging Technologies Shaping the Workplace
The future of work will certainly bring many complex changes. But by proactively shaping AI strategies and developing a skilled, adaptive workforce, companies can ensure people remain at the heart of innovation. What steps can organizations take today to prepare for tomorrow? The journey begins with an openness to reimagine how work gets done in a technology-enabled world.
Article written by Rob Lora: business professional with extensive experience in workforce solutions and a keen eye for market trends and industry dynamics.
Edited and published by Fred Coon, CEO, Stewart, Cooper & Coon, Inc.