CXO

3 ways to reshape your workforce in the age of AI

Some 61% of senior executives say more jobs requiring collaboration with AI will rise in the next three years. Here's how to prepare workers for the change.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and human-machine collaboration could boost business revenues by 38% by 2022, and raise employment levels by 10%. — Accenture, 2018
  • 61% of senior executives think the share of roles requiring collaboration with AI will rise in the next three years. — Accenture, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to impact nearly every industry, and businesses that don't take immediate steps to upskill their workforces to collaborate with machines will miss out on revenue, according to a recent report from Accenture Strategy.

If businesses invest in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top-performing companies, they could boost revenues by 38% by 2022, the report found, lifting profits by $4.8 trillion globally. These businesses could also raise employment levels by 10% in that timeframe.

Business leaders are optimistic about the changes that AI can bring to their organization and workforce, according to the 1,200 senior executives surveyed for the report: 72% said that intelligent technology will be critical to their organization's market differentiation. Further, 61% said the share of roles requiring collaboration with AI will rise in the next three years. And 69% of the 14,000 workers surveyed said that it was important to develop skills to work with these intelligent systems.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

However, a disconnect remains, as only 3% of business leaders said that their organization plans to significantly increase its investment in reskilling workers in the next three years.

"To achieve higher rates of growth in the age of AI, companies need to invest more in equipping their people to work with machines in new ways," Mark Knickrehm, group chief executive of Accenture Strategy, said in a press release. "Increasingly, businesses will be judged on their commitment to what we call Applied Intelligence - the ability to rapidly implement intelligent technology and human ingenuity across all parts of their core business to secure this growth."

While many fear that AI will replace low-level jobs, most businesses are optimistic about the impact on their companies, the report found: 63% of senior executives said they think their company will create net job gains in the next three years due to AI, while 62% of workers said they believe AI will have a positive impact on their work.

Here are three ways business leaders can shape their future workforce in the age of AI, according to Accenture:

1. Reimagine work by configuring work from the bottom up

Some 46% of business leaders agreed that job descriptions are already obsolete, and 29% said they have redesigned jobs extensively. Leaders should assess tasks rather than jobs, and then allocate those tasks to both machines and people. This balance the need to automate work and to elevate your worker's capabilities.

2. Pivot the workforce to areas that unlock new forms of value

Leaders should go beyond process efficiencies to prepare their workforce to create new customer experiences, Accenture recommends. This might mean finding new growth models by reinvesting savings gained from automation into the future workforce. It also requires a new leadership mindset that values long-term transformation opportunities.

3. Scale up "new skilling"

Determine your workforce's current skillset, and their willingness to learn how to work with AI. You can then use digital platforms to target different areas of the workforce with personalized learning opportunities.

"Business leaders must take immediate steps to pivot their workforce to enter an entirely new world where human ingenuity meets intelligent technology to unlock new forms of growth," Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture, said in the release. "Workers are impatient to collaborate with AI, giving leaders the opportunity to demonstrate true Applied Intelligence within their organization."

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Image: iStockphoto/YakobchukOlena

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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