When we talk about development of society and humanity, we define it by changes in leading technologies, organisational structure and meaning systems (in a sense what is leading value system that is providing authorization power to political, economic, social structures of certain period). The dynamics of this changes is being analysed by numerous experts in different fields, playing a lot with chicken and egg questions about: “Is technology changing societies or does society need to change in order for new technologies to fully enter into everyday use” But this is dilemma for another time.
If we focus on changes that new technologies are bringing into business world of tomorrow, we can’t miss artificial intelligence and her opportunity-threat sentiments it evokes. It doesn’t matter that we are all users of AI implications already today in our everyday life, there are still concerns in big proportion of today’s workforce, that AI is their enemy and it will replace them as workforce of future.
Let’s say for debate sake that we have three possible outcomes:
- First – humans will defend our positions and we will be core workforce and AI use will be sporadic and not defining
- Second – AI will replace humans as core workforce
- Third – we will need to learn how to work with AI and create symbiotic environment that will improve total efficiency by work sharing based on use of best abilities of both worlds – human and AI.
Third does look promising. But why then we don’t see higher enthusiasm for its faster deployment. Where does this fear of changes comes from?
Let us try to define work areas for both partners for a moment. If we see traditional capitalistic structure of workforce we talked about owners, management, white and blue-collar workers. And when we talk about AI, it started from development of automation machines through computers all the way to IoT status, where technology supported with connectivity and machine learning mechanism seems to enter into all areas of work processes. Because of that vast presence and development of technology into areas that were being defined as human-specific not a long time ago, technology is being perceived more and more as threat and not as an opportunity for development.
But if this is true and we can define technology as superior tools for work-related activities, what does that say about human capabilities and our role in work related activities up until now. Is our only value really just ability to work or do we bring some added values through our human specific actions? If that was true, that our ability is only to work, horses would disappear, when we started using machines for agriculture activities.
So instead on focusing if we can be better than technology at doing things we did so far, because there was no technology available, we should focus on our role as co-workers of technology and reposition our self with attaining new skills and deployment of our resources, that we were not able to use, because of lack of time.
If we see a gap in human workforce to do that, if human workforce is lacking resources:
- that can coordinate complex environments,
- read trends in big data pictures,
- adjust their approach to hybrid environments, by defining roles and borders
- incorporate structured approach into their own activities,
- accept personal accountability and motivational drives that will not be imposed from outside,
- being able to change and adapt faster than ever before,
- accept instability as opportunity and not a threat,
- thrive in network based project oriented business environment and not hierarchical top down function driven,
then this is not a problem of technology development but more of people non-development.
Future professions will need to develop new skills and adjust old ones. And this is not specific of certain professions, all of them will change, some will disappear, new will come, but all will need to evolve. Well to be fair society as such will need to evolve also. In our connected society business is not an island on its own, workforce is product of education system, business is only moulding it once workforce join it.
As Graham Hawkins is saying in his The Future of the Sales Profession: “What determines vulnerability to automation is not so much whether the work concerned is manual or white-collar, but whether or not it is a routine.” Probably it is hard to acknowledge, but a lot of B2B sales activities fold under above description, so hence there could lie an answer about development of B2B sales.
And this is true also for majority of other professions, routine is area where it doesn’t make sense to defend it against replacement of human workforce with AI. It is true that when you ask people what is their value in business process you received mainly answers about their ability to do routine works better than others, since they have experience, and because of that biggest opposition for transition is coming from that area, but on a long run this will happen. Question is will companies, people and society use the time until then to adapt with new skills, approach and mentality to those changes or will this transition be more brutal, mostly for the people.
Let’s ask our self who does more damage: “Robot that acts like human or human that acts like robot?” Future knows the answer.