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AI T̶a̶k̶i̶n̶g Revolutionizing Employee Jobs

July 19th, 2023 by Kamil Borowski
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AI Revolutionizing Employee Roles

Robots taking over the world and leaving humans in poverty with no jobs to do is one of the most popular scenarios of dystopian sci-fi. Indeed, AI has learned to successfully complete a variety of tasks and has already grown beyond the level of a mere assistant for automating repetitive tasks.

While many employees see the rapid development of this powerful technology as a threat, more and more employers are finding ways to support the potential of humans in the workplace through the use of AI. In this article, you will find real examples of positive changes in the work environment made possible due to the introduction of AI by employers with a strategic and human-centered approach.

AI saves employees from dead-end jobs

There is no doubt that AI can work on many tasks more effectively than humans. One of the advantages of this trend, often emphasized by AI proponents, is the creation of new jobs.

Human Supervisors of Robots

Although most new jobs involve the technology itself, which requires complete retraining of employees who want to secure their careers before they lose their current positions, some companies need the help of their employees to support innovation.

One of the best examples is the leading online retailer Amazon, which is expected to employ more robots than human workers in the near future. Amazon has embraced robotics to meet the insatiable demand for online shopping around the world. While the company is relying more and more on machines deployed in its warehouses, it will not stop employing humans. According to Tye Bradie, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, the company started investing in robotics a decade ago and since then has created more than a million jobs.

At Amazon, human employees have become supervisors of robots, and while the machines are quite capable of learning and developing new skills, it seems the company has developed a particular employment and deployment cycle. The more robots Amazon uses, the more effective it becomes at managing inventory, which allows its warehouses to stock even more goods. This, in turn, increases the demand for even more robots. Meanwhile, human employees find themselves as robot supervisors who must ensure that the work process executed by machines runs smoothly.

AI Creates More Room for Employees’ Growth

Meanwhile, there are also companies with a broader market perspective that have found effective ways to leverage freed-up resources after implementing AI solutions. They indeed have created brand-new jobs not associated with AI. Furthermore, these companies have dedicated the new vacancies to their employees, who can now reach their full potential at work without the limitations of their previous responsibilities of dead-end jobs.

One of the best examples of a company that has found an efficient way for its own growth and the growth of its employees is IKEA, the Swedish company based in the Netherlands that specializes in furniture, home appliances, and decoration.

Two years after the implementation of its AI customer support assistant Billy, it has effectively handled almost 50% of customer inquiries. The reduced demand for customer support specialists allowed the company to redirect the resources to a completely new role that is much more creative, cognitively engaging, and fulfilling than their previous job.

These employees have received extensive training that qualifies them to work as interior design advisers. At the time of publication, nearly 8,500 IKEA employees have received the training necessary to fulfill their new roles.

This was not an altruistic attempt to help former call center employees find other employment, but rather a successful strategic move that allowed IKEA to leverage an additional source of income. Now IKEA is offering interior design consulting services. For a price of $32, customers can have a video call meeting with one of the interior design advisers offering professional recommendations and a list of relevant IKEA products. Additionally, for the price of about $159, customers can take advantage of three consultation sessions that include a floor plan and 3D visualizations.

The new services proved very popular, accounting for around $10.7 billion in 2022, or nearly 25% of total IKEA sales.

Robot's Physical Fitness to Support Humans

While the tremendous computing power of robots is one of the biggest advantages workers can leverage, some companies are particularly focused on the physical agility of machines.

Toyota is one of the illustrations of employers using collaborative robots (cobots) to help their workers perform manufacturing tasks that require repetitive motions with a high degree of concentration, for instance, applying precise amounts of sealant, performing quality checks, and lifting heavy loads.

At the same time, these cobots are equipped with safety features such as speed limiting, collision avoidance, and force sensing. Altogether, cobots at Toyota optimize ergonomics and help employees to avoid injuries.

Cobots provide similar support for employees at XPO Logistics, where intelligent machines are empowered by algorithms to learn how to navigate warehouses with minimal human supervision.

Robots, which do not get tired as quickly as humans, can move faster around facilities, locate and move heavy goods, and perform other tasks that are physically strenuous for humans. This significantly increases the company's productivity and allows it to process more orders, which is especially critical during the holiday shopping season.

However, despite the significant increase in productivity, XPO Logistics is hiring thousands of new employees, similar to Amazon, who are now focusing on tasks that require problem-solving and process optimization.

Enhanced human productivity in the age of applied robotics

Some occupations, such as those mentioned above, are indeed greatly affected by AI, but with smart management, they are transforming into more rewarding occupations. This is especially true for jobs that involve repetitive tasks and do not require advanced skills.

However, some occupations have always involved complex tasks and intellectual engagement. The rapid development of AI-powered tools makes these professionals nervous about the future of their careers too. For example, there is a popular belief that software testers and even developers are likely to lose their jobs due to the new testing and programming solutions that use AI. In reality, however, these specialists are not losing their jobs, but are now enjoying powerful support that streamlines their work.

AI Assisting Recruiters

One of the groups of human specialists who can optimize their work with AI tools is recruiters.

For example, leading American hospitality company Hilton has deployed Connie, an AI-powered chatbot, commonly known for welcoming guests at the Hilton's hotels. Yet, Connie's functionality is much wider and one of its tasks is to assist recruiters. Although Connie does not help recruiters accurately assess applicants and can only pre-screen their profiles, it does take on another role of recruiting specialists such as providing potential candidates with information about the workplace and available job opportunities.

Furthermore, recruiters at other companies can now use comprehensive analysis of candidates during video interviews with the HireVue platform that assesses candidates' answers, body language, and facial expressions, as well as many other tools including Entelo for predicting candidates' openness to new hires, Beamery for predictions based on candidates' preferences and many more.

Uniliver is one of the companies using AI suggestions based on video interview analysis for the graduate hiring process. Meanwhile, IBM supports recruiters with IBM Watson Orchestrate, which provides a comprehensive analysis of job descriptions, resumes, and candidate profiles, enabling the tech giant's recruiters to make data-driven decisions.

Instead of replacing human recruiters, AI systems help them identify potential talent more accurately and save a lot of time and resources that can be used to recruit more people and bring more profit to recruitment specialists.

AI Optimizing Work of IT Specialists

Programmers now have much more time to focus on challenging tasks while using AI to quickly generate code snippets and complete entire segments based on specific contexts.

Automated testing, which includes machine learning algorithms, has given testers powerful tools to perform particularly resource-intensive testing methods such as regression testing and performance testing. Developers can now not only create test cases and scenarios faster but also gain more insights from test results by getting intelligent suggestions for possible causes of bugs. In addition, AI can help identify brittle and redundant tests. Overall, AI makes it possible for testers to significantly increase test coverage, avoid errors and ultimately improve the quality of their software products.

Furthermore, the data generated by the development and testing processes can be analyzed by AI to make predictions for future software product performance and adoption. By learning from historical data, AI helps developers identify hidden trends and discover potential risks and areas that require further improvement.

Additionally, software houses that use artificial intelligence save a lot of time on creating documentation, which can also be handled by AI tools.

Although all of these tasks are successfully performed by artificial intelligence, human supervision is absolutely necessary to verify and control the process. For some specialists, this means the opportunity to enjoy more challenging projects while saving a lot of time with AI-powered automation whenever possible, while others use their resources to complete more tasks faster and enjoy the greater income.

Unsurprisingly, tech giants like Microsoft and IBM are using AI for developing and testing their products. Microsoft, for example, has equipped its employees with AI-powered solutions for its Visual Studio IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that enable rapid coding and testing based on intelligent suggestions and error detection. Testing is further enhanced by the automatic generation of unit tests based on comprehensive code analysis.

The more certain programming and testing tasks are automated, the more opportunities there are to further develop applications and create even more complex modern software. At the same time, the adoption of AI increases the demand for programming and testing skills even further.

AI as an Effective Analytical Tool for Employees

Clearly, even the most demanding jobs involve daunting, repetitive tasks that are perfect for automation with AI tools. However, some jobs involve significant amounts of data that cannot be processed by humans due to physical limitations. At the same time, this data has significant value for companies, and if it is not used, they will miss out on many business opportunities.

For instance, the deployment of AI tools transforms the humdrum tasks of routine communication with customers into developing customer-centric strategies tailored to meet the unique needs of clients. Regardless of a company's specialization, its employees can get a powerful analytics tool that helps them better understand customers and customize their experiences for greater satisfaction. This is a particularly valuable solution for commission-based jobs, where employees have more opportunities to increase their income, which in turn motivates them to work more effectively.

On the other hand, there are professions where workers can rely on artificial intelligence's ability to process large amounts of data to protect them from making risky decisions. For example, specialists working in supply chain management or manufacturing can make better-informed decisions when planning and scheduling manufacturing, procurement, and purchasing. Comprehensive analysis based on historical data processed by artificial intelligence does not replace humans, but it does give them powerful tools to work more effectively.

Job Displacement or Job Enrichment?

Technological advancement has always inevitably made some jobs obsolete. Loom operators replaced by weaving machines, elevator operators replaced by automatic elevator systems, bank tellers replaced by ATMs, and toll collectors replaced by electronic toll collection systems are just a few examples of occupations that are considered history in many regions of the world.

However, this has not led to the dystopian scenario of job displacement and poverty, and it will not have to do with artificial intelligence, which can revolutionize the role of workers, enrich their jobs, and open up new opportunities. Despite its ability to outperform humans at certain tasks, AI does not necessarily have to compete with humans. On the contrary, it can be a valuable addition to any team, taking over costly manual work and allowing humans to unleash their potential and creativity.

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