Say hello to machines that can now read your emotions! Yes, and that’s not all they are getting good at, according to the Wall Street Journal, robots are taking on more elaborate tasks.¹
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming the lives of many workers in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and hotel industries. The aging workforce is growing and so is the use of robotic health aides. In reality, all industries since the 1990’s have been changed in some way due to software technology. This change is a constant and transcends socio-economic and industrial barriers; however that’s not to say some industries haven’t been more significantly affected by the improvement of AI.
One specific example is the refinement in math-based algorithms that track and predict trends and patterns, such as the algorithms that control high-frequency trades. While some content management systems give us insights into pure statistics, it’s typically left to a human to develop a strategy behind the numbers. This is not true with predictive trading, which in 2010 accounted for over 60 percent of all U.S. equity volume.²
As demonstrated by the stock market, every senior executive and professional needs to be asking what will be the implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning be for our business model, customer experience, employability and future work.
Even the CEO’s job is at risk of automation–a fact that has been verified by the report done by McKinsey&Company. Much of the tasks performed by high-paid professionals like financial planners, physicians, and senior executives can be automated. As much as 20% of a CEO’s working time, such as evaluation of financial reports and operational decision making can be automated by a program.³
As economic developers, executives and leaders take on the critical work of determining how do we reinvent and create high-paying jobs for a new century, management needs to take a proactive approach to reducing the fear and anxiety associated with these significant shifts and ensure they are taking appropriate actions to lead effective dialogue sessions in the workplace and rethink human capital strategy for the new era.
One thing is also certain, modern contributors need to become the CEO of their career. Workers need to take charge of it and constantly cultivate self-learning and development plans to ensure employability in an evolving world of work.
Robots and machines may be eliminating more technical and advanced tasks, but for the present, they do not reflect the same experience that people bring to customer, vendor, team, and investor relationships.
If technology will be able to emote human creativity in the future as author Erik Brynjolfsson predicts in his book The Second Machine Age,⁴ then what skills will modern contributors need to cultivate and maintain a high level of competitiveness for long-term employability?
As indicated in the McKinsey Report, the importance of this evolution isn’t whether or not some jobs tasks can be automated, but rather which portions of your job could and should be automated so you can allocate more time towards things that machines are incapable of doing.
Here are a few things you can do in order to stay competitive in an age of automation.
Empathy paves the way for relationship building and collaboration. Many business relationships are highly affected by the bond that employees share with one another. This also transcends to both B2B and B2C relationships. A report done by Econsultancy showed that 78% of respondents thought that a company’s customer service reputation was an important factor going into the decision on whether to purchase a product. 37% say that they expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative.⁵ This interaction, even on the smallest level increases customer satisfaction and retention.
Motivation and leadership are also two emotions that are unique to people as well and can contribute to a happy and engaged workforce. Developing leaders harnesses the human capability to take responsibility and innovate new processes, and cultivates an attitude of contributing to the whole organization for the betterment of others.
Maintain and Promote your Creativity
Things like art, design, and writing can be aided with the use of software technology, but still require a human to develop. For that reason, give your creativity a boost and place a larger emphasis towards igniting your creative side as thoughtful approaches to new problems could be your most valuable asset in the future.
What do you do to maintain and expand your creativity? Listening to music, reading a book, playing an instrument, learning, or taking a class exercises your creative mind and allows you to look at problems or challenges in an objective and unique way.
Trustworthiness and Understanding Human Relationships
In 2013 a Tweet was sent from a hacked account for the Associated Press and caused the S&P 500 to lose 121 billion dollars in value in the matter of minutes.⁶
Many cases have been made against this level of automation, and human brokers who in the past traditionally traded stock brought a level of market stability. The inability for the software to make a determination on early unverified reports caused a catastrophe that would have otherwise been avoided.
Think about how you can increase trustworthiness in your workplace. While a robot may provide accuracy and consistency, it’s impossible for a robot to replicate the kind of trusting relationship you build with your colleagues, partners, and customers when agreements are strengthened and every member can be relied upon to contribute their part in a meaningful way.
Additionally, it’s important to look at the ability for an effective leader to resource human capital on teams that are likely to work productively. This evaluation and understanding can only be achieved by embracing people’s emotions and the relationships that compose a team.
Mobility and Adaptability
Many people are adaptable and in a high-paid profession, this is a crucial asset to have regardless of your career. Programs are limited to their intended function, something that both people and the companies that employ them will set in their programming. An individual’s ability to wear many hats, and easily transition from one task to another make versatility important.
In addition, many companies now run on an omni-channel platform which makes your ability to understand concepts in many different areas increasingly important. Again, while a robot may be good, or even the best, at handling a single task, it is unable to make correlations between things it doesn’t know–which is something a good manager or executive is completely capable of doing. Take every opportunity to expand your knowledge, and when given the opportunity delve into topics you may be unfamiliar, go in head first. Your versatility of knowledge and execution of tasks will make you an important asset in the coming robotic future.
Ignite New Ideas
Motivation and a feeling of community is the strongest asset for some companies. Inventing a new product, or creating a new operational task is very difficult, but that’s not all you can do. The ability to ignite new and innovative ideas in others by promoting healthy discussion and meaningful communication is something that AI is incapable of doing.
This is a fact that’s actually backed up by science. When someone is motivated dopamine is released in their brain and compels them to take action towards their goals.⁷
The fear of technology replacing jobs has been around since the 1930’s when John Maynard Keynes coined the phrase “technological unemployment.”⁸ Since then, jobs have still been available to humans, though we are entering a unique phase of advanced robotics. The key is, and has always been, to leverage your unique skills and attributes in order to develop a skill-set that is high in demand. Taking charge of your personal and professional growth through self-learning and development, especially skills in high-demand areas, will not only strengthen your contribution but increase employability for the future. Instead of looking at automation as a potential stumbling block, consider looking at it as a way to minimize tasks that will one day be deemed less important, and embrace our ability to allocate more time in enhancing what matters in our organizations, relationships.
© 2015 All rights reserved. Judy White, SPHR, GPHR, HCS, SPHR-SCP™ is the founder of The Infusion Group™. A trusted partner in creating new possibilities in workplace design, future of work and organizational management to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, and society.
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¹ Martin, Alexander. “Moore’s Law Will Bring Emotional Machines — SoftBank CEO.” Digits RSS. Wall Street Journal, 17 Apr. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
² Phillips, Matthew. “How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading’s Rise and Fall.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 6 June 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
³ Chui, Michael, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi. “Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation.” Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation. McKinsey&Company, 1 Nov. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
⁴ Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. Print.
⁵ Davis, Ben. “Omnichannel Customer Service [stats and Infographics].”Econsultancy.com. Econsultancy, 26 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
⁶ Farrell, Maureen. “Twitter Flash Crash Fueled by High Speed Trading.”CNNMoney. CNN, 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
⁷ Nguyen, Thai. “Hacking Into Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
⁸ “John Maynard Keynes.” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and Liberty. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. http:/www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Keynes.html