What impact will AI have on the way we work?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have been the words on everyone’s lips over the past few years, particularly in relation to how these new technologies will impact industries and organisations. With 72% of executives believing AI will be the business advantage of the future, according to PwC, and executives looking to AI to alleviate repetitive and menial tasks, the conversation surrounding the business influence of AI is becoming too loud to ignore.
As we begin to accept the disruptive and transformative power of this emerging technology, we must also acknowledge its potential influence in shaping how we work into the future. How will our industries be impacted by robots and machines, and where can we stand to gain from such advances in tech?
How will AI impact our industries?
Life sciences, falling under PwC’s healthcare umbrella, has the highest potential AI consumption impact of any industry. If used effectively and efficiently, it could lead to faster and more accurate diagnoses, more personalised treatment, earlier intervention and therefore improved population health. With AI already being used in some cutting-edge organistion for things such as appointment and operation scheduling, we can look forward to more data-driven diagnostics and virtual drug development in the future. However, this must be balanced with the need for patient privacy. Patients and health professionals alike will take time to adapt to and trust automated services in the healthcare industry, so change in this space will likely come in slow increments. Automation within life sciences can save time and money, and if the market builds unified machine learning models then we can expect to see more accurate predictions. Data commodification and standardisation will also have a significant impact on life sciences. In order to achieve this, however, we need more AI-skilled life sciences professionals to help push this sector forward.
The energy industry has three predicted areas of major AI potential: Smart metering, grid operation and storage, and predictive infrastructure maintenance. Ultimately, these will combine to create a more efficient and cost-effective supply and usage of energy, of which renewable energy plays a significant part. We can expect to see AI used to create forecasts for electricity demand, generation and weather, predicting and managing fluctuations in production, according to University College London’s Aidan O’Sullivan. It could also potentially be used to manage electricity shortfalls and observe systems to predict failures before they happen. With Google’s DeepMind AI company using AI to reduce the amount of energy to cool data centres by 40%, it’s clear that the potential for this technology is significant within the energy sector.
The ICT sector is the most frequent user of AI, with many leading organisations already incorporating new technologies into everyday work functions and tasks. While this has left some fearing the loss of jobs as automation threatens human labour, it’s predicted that AI will work alongside and enhance the human workforce, as opposed to reducing jobs. One example of this is at InterContinental Hotels Group, which incorporated AI in 2016 in a bid to provide enhanced IT support. A virtual service desk agent was introduced, yet the organisation didn’t reduce headcount – in fact, it increased staff numbers and saw productivity increase. Professionals in this space should look to upskill in AI in order to keep up with the fast-moving industry, which looks set to see machine learning contributing to the efficiency of 5G systems. Those organisations – and professionals - that take advantage of AI technologies will likely see an increase in productivity, moving menial, routine tasks to technology-based solutions and freeing up people to perform higher-level activities.
Making AI work for you
AI is expected to become more prominent in the coming years, regardless of the industry in which you work. Those organisations that take advantage of the potential new technologies offer will likely see benefits in terms of productivity, efficiency and efficacy, without the need to reduce headcount. Meanwhile, professionals who stay on top of technology trends and are open to working with – as opposed to against – AI and machine learning will ultimately be more appealing to employers.