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How to reshape your workforce in the age of AI

According to a 2018 report by Accenture Strategy, businesses that fail to steps to upskill their workforces so they can effectively collaborate with machines face the risk of missing out on revenue and growth. On the other hand, those businesses that integrate artificial intelligence effectively could see their revenues climb. Across the business sector, by 2022 the effective application of artificial intelligence could see revenues increase by 38 percent and employment levels increasing by 10 percent.

For this to happen, artificial intelligence needs to be effectively integrated. In the report “Reworking the Revolution“, Accenture Strategy finds that 61 percent of senior executives are of the view the proportion of roles in a company requiring collaboration with artificial intelligence will rise continually over the next three years.

For this to happen effectively takes time and planning. The report puts forward the notion that artificial intelligence solutions are adopted by businesses over three stages:

Education: Which is about exploration, research and design.
Prototyping: Where experiments are conducted within businesses functions, prior to rolling out across a business. Here proof-of-concept studies are conducted.
Industrialization: Which is employment on scale, across the entire businesses.

The sectors set to see the greatest growth are, in order: consumer services, health, telecommunications, retail, financial services, chemical and automotive.

The major barrier, according to the report, is people: “Employers underestimate the willingness of employees to acquire the relevant skills.” From a survey of business leaders, only 26 percent of employers think their workforce as ready for artificial intelligence adoption. With workers themselves, most workers are enthusiastic about adoption. However, there is a demographic difference with 56 percent of ‘baby boomers’ being positive, which is relatively low compared with the enthusiasm shown by 75 percent of millennials.

To address this limitation, the 2018 report calls for businesses to re-imagine work; to pivot the workforce; and to scale-up so-termed ‘upskilling’.

Re-imagining work

As to what these terms mean, Tech Republic assesses re-imaging work as doing away with work clustered around job descriptions. Instead businesses leaders need to review tasks rather than jobs, and begin to allocate tasks to both machines and people. This ensures that tasks that can be automated can be done so efficiently and it breaks down the restrictive limitations that can occur around the job description.

Pivoting the workforce

By this, Accenture means unlocking new forms of value in the workplace. Here businesses should prepare workforce in readiness to create new customer experiences This can include using new forms of automation and developing a new managerial mindset to find and develop new transformation opportunities.

Scale up “new skilling”

For the acceleration of ‘upskilling’, businesses need to determine their workforce’s skillset and their willingness to learn new tasks, especially in relation to machines and automation. From this digital platforms should be developed with personalized learning opportunities, in reflection of the workforce being at different stages of learning and in terms of acceptance of new technologies.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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