Aaron Richard Earl Boasman-Patel, Vice President AI & Customer Experience, TM Forum
Originally published on inform.tmforum.org, republished with kind permission.
In my last blog, I discussed why people should stop fearing AI and instead, understand and embrace the opportunities that it brings, especially for AI operations.
If you’ve had a chance to read the article, you’ll recall I quoted not only TM Forum’s own research that showed the impact of AI on displacing staff ranked last on the list of potential challenges, but also the 2017 Deloitte Cognitive Aware Survey which backed up our findings. Just over a week ago, another study was published by Oracle and Future Workplace showing that 93% of people would trust orders from a robot at work, while all the respondents agreed that AI will have a positive impact on their organizations. In the next three years, respondents to this latest survey expect the benefits of AI to include:
- Operational efficiencies – 59%
- Enabling faster decision making – 50%
- Significantly reduced costs – 45%
- Enabling better customer experiences – 37%
AI is not your enemy
One of the most interesting parts of the study actually turns this fear of technology on its head, and shows how not embracing AI now will in fact result in job losses, irrelevance and loss of competitive advantage. Indeed, despite a lot of talk around people being worried about AI entering the workplace, the study found that 79% of HR leaders and 60% of employees believed a failure to adopt AI will have negative consequences on their own careers, colleagues and overall organisation.
Emily He, SVP, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, Oracle stated that “As this study shows, people are not afraid of AI taking their jobs and instead want to be able to quickly and easily take advantage of the latest innovations… To help employees embrace AI, organizations should partner with their HR leaders to address the skill gap and focus their IT strategy on embedding simple and powerful AI innovations into existing business processes.”
AI adds value
So where does the power of AI really lie and how does this relate to the workforce if artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace jobs? Especially as efficiencies and cost reduction usually only mean one thing… job cuts.
AI augmentation is the answer to the question which baffles many. A study by Gartner states that 2020 will be a pivotal role in AI-relation employment dynamics. Gartner predicts that 1.8 millions jobs will be eliminated, 2.3 million jobs will be created.
The main contributor to net growth is AI augmentation, which is a combination of AI and human operations, where the two complement each other. AI will improve the productivity of many skilled jobs and whilst some jobs will be displaced by AI, especially highly repetitive and transactional positions, it will create millions of new positions in highly skilled management positions as well as entry-level and low-skilled jobs. AI will, for example, help humans, especially those working in an industry with vast amounts of data that humans couldn’t possibly understand it or analyse.
John-David Lovelock, Vice-President and distinguished analyst, Garter states that “AI applications will bring new levels of decision quality, customer service, scale and operational efficiently to process formerly directed and run by human labour”. He goes on to cite an example, Stich Fix, a personalized shopping company which used AI for human augmentation. Stich Fix uses AI to narrow down merchandise selection but leaves the final choice of items and any ‘personal touches’ to human designers. The company created jobs not only for 65 data scientists, but thousands of designers.
AI cares for your customers
As the amount of data that service providers have to carry and process across their networks continues to reach unprecedented levels, and as new complex, data hungry digital services are launched and consumed, service providers have no choice but to implement AI and to use it alongside their human workforce.
AI will play a fundamental role in the future of service provider operations and will allow them to deliver a superior, personalized customer experience which simply cannot be delivered any other way. Indeed successful AI augmentation may not only lead to the creation of new services and business models, but it can also enable a superior customer and service delivery which could be a very valuable USP in an increasingly competitive market place.
AI augmentation will allow service providers to cut costs, remain competitive, deliver a superior service and launch new services across complex ecosystems – from autonomous cars and fleet management to healthcare and beyond.
AI needs skilled humans
The biggest challenge doesn’t seem to be the implementation of the technology, but, as the Oracle and Future Workplace survey shows, it is the upskilling and retraining of human employees. Some 72% of HR leaders surveyed noted that their organizations do not provide any form of AI training program.
Service providers must act urgently to address the skills gap and continue their digital transformation. It is not only essential for the future of their employees but also for the future survival of their companies.
Aaron is an Advisory Board member for FutureNet World, learn more about AI at FutureNet World, 26-27 March 2019 at 99 City Road Conference Centre, London. The theme for the event is ‘Network Automation and AI’ and will feature ground breaking content and practical use cases.