Artificial intelligence and robotics have long been touted as a disruptor that will change the way we work. In a recent global study by Pegasystems, 69 percent of senior executives believe that the term “workforce” will ultimately encapsulate both human and machine intelligence.
But robots like Siri won’t be replacing your favorite co-worker anytime soon, as artificial intelligence is entering the industry in a similar way that software did in the 1990’s. Rather than taking over full jobs and roles, the most effective AI solutions have worked behind the scenes to solve niche, complex tasks, or automate routine, monotonous aspects of jobs, freeing up humans for more complex tasks.
As AI gets more sophisticated, its use is expanding from process automation to solving issues in the front office, driving better conversational and social experiences for businesses. AI doesn’t just improve processes, it actually improves the lives of people. Here are three ways the workforce can benefit as AI gains traction.
AI Empowers Customer Interactions
The rise of chatbots in recent years is probably the most compelling way companies use AI to enhance customer support, and IBM estimates that by 2020, 85 percent of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Chatbots allow service departments to provide support at scale by loading chatbots with support data in a variety of languages to provide customer support with 24/7 availability.
Another interesting way that AI is enhancing customer interactions is by through real-time training and onboarding that can respond to real world demands. For example, tools like Chorus.ai and Gong.io analyze sales conversations to assist managers in figuring out what is working and not working on their team, allowing sales managers to provide better training to improve the performance of their staff.
Finally, AI is being applied to real life devices, where it can be leveraged to bring more power to tools at the point of service. For example, StethIO is bringing new life to the stethoscope by connecting it to an iPhone and a cloud backend to provide assistance to physicians. Pepper, the humanoid robot from SoftBank, actually steps in as a greeter, FAQ expert, and product educator for retail and banking companies; HSBC is one company that has seen great success from this strategy, as Pepper has allowed HSBC bankers to provide more personalized engagement opportunities.
Empowering Employee Interactions
As natural language processing increases in its sophistication, AI-powered solutions can be used to enhance and execute some of the most common remedial tasks in the workplace. For example, a survey by Zoom found that a majority of workers using automatic scheduling tools saved 1-5 hours per week of busy work.
Even in highly interpersonal roles -- like recruiting -- there are large sections of the job that are repetitive and can easily be handled by AI. Solutions like Textio help recruiters write more effective job postings with augmented writing tools that evaluate and improve the language of the post, while tools like Mya handle outreach and communication through conversational AI. These tools make it easy to automatically move candidates through the hiring process to onboarding without human interaction, freeing up HR teams to focus on high value conversations, and ensuring no candidates are left behind.
Since Operations usually contains the most repetitive tasks in the company, it’s one of the more common places to expect AI and automation, especially when combined with hardware and advancing robotics.
One of the ways Amazon has become a distribution powerhouse is by leveraging AI and robotics in the warehouse. After paying $775M for Kiva robotics in 2013, Amazon now has 30,000 robots picking and dropping boxes. Similarly, SoftBank Robotics robots like Brain have increased efficiency in the Japanese cleaning industry with self-driving robots that work seamlessly alongside teammates to free up staff for higher-value tasks.
And according to Forrester Research, one of the fastest growing sectors of AI is robotic process automation. The company recently revised its growth forecast, predicting it will reach $3.3B by 2021. One of the leaders in the space is UiPath, and their RPA tools enable users to build out and run traditional block diagram processes. These solutions can scrape websites, fill out databases, move files and folders, and connect to system API’s. Providers like Mujin use AI to increase the effectiveness of workforce automation robots by calculating the reverse kinematics equations for every robot considering all the edge cases.
Shifting Workplace Dynamics
As AI increasingly augments human capabilities, businesses will continually run faster and leaner, with human employees getting more opportunities to exercise their unique creative capabilities, while AI can be leveraged to fill in the gaps. To learn more, visit the SoftBank Robotics site, and read about how Pepper is driving the future of work.