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  • Writer's pictureMark Cameron

Keeping The Human At The Center Of Leveraging Automation And AI For Human-Centered Innovation

This article can be viewed on Forbes


By 2025, the global market for artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to reach $126 billion.


Automation and practical AI are revolutionizing modern workplaces at an unprecedented pace. From the assembly line to the office, organizations of all sizes already leverage these technologies to increase productivity, improve accuracy and enhance customer service. For example, Amazon's use of robots has increased efficiency by 20%, allowing it to process orders faster and more accurately. This surging investment and adoption can only be expected to increase.


However, opportunities and pitfalls exist, as with any significant shift in business practices. Pickers at Amazon's fulfillment warehouses certainly don't celebrate the pressures this has put on work conditions.


As companies embrace automation and AI, it's critical to have a coherent digital transformation strategy that balances short-term business benefits with long-term strategic goals and the potential impact on customers, staff and communities. At Alyve, we call it Human Kind Technology.


Disruptive Forces

The impact of automation and AI on the contemporary workplace will be immense. Automation has already revolutionized manufacturing, with robots performing repetitive and hazardous tasks, increasing efficiency and reducing error rates. AI will transform jobs in the white-collar service sector and will soon be even more capable of taking on back-office functions like accounting, code development and document production. This extends to customer interactions with virtualized contact centers.


These technologies are now being integrated into virtually every industry, with the clear potential to disrupt traditional business models and create new ones. This is happening whether we like it or not. If you aren't considering where these technologies can benefit your business, are you confident your competitors are equally relaxed?


Automation Benefits

Automation is the older brother of AI, and humans have been building and deploying examples for decades if not hundreds of years. Where we can find a cost-effective way to repeat a piece of work, we have tended to adopt this change and move on to more complex, variable tasks. In the last 10 years, off-the-shelf automation at scale has become cost-effective in knowledge and service-based organizations.


By automating routine tasks, organizations can free up employees to focus on higher-value activities driving productivity dividends. For instance, in the healthcare industry, AI is being used to automate administrative tasks, allowing doctors and nurses to spend more time with patients. In finance, AI-powered chatbots automate customer service, reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction.


Automation and AI offer improved accuracy and consistency. Machines can perform tasks with dedication and precision that is challenging for humans to match, and they can do so without the risk of human error. For example, in the accounting industry, AI-powered software can automatically reconcile bank statements and detect anomalies, reducing the risk of financial mistakes.


The Other Side Of The Coin

However, the benefits of automation and AI come with downsides. One of the main challenges is the potential displacement of human workers. While automation and AI can increase productivity and efficiency, they can increasingly wholly replace human workers in specific tasks.


We implore business leaders to consider the multitude of benefits to framing AI and automation technology as more than just a "cost-out" lever.


Despite recent advancements, an organization's most flexible and adaptable elements remain its staff members. Their collective wisdom and institutional knowledge are why organizations are where they are today. They are a new product idea's first test audience; they consciously or unconsciously bias decisions and processes toward human-first outcomes.


The Balancing Act

The increasing pace of advancement and adoption also means that it's getting more difficult to make reasonable predictions about winners, losers, and which new industries and opportunities will emerge. How leaders manage this transition will impact their company culture.


It is critical to have a coherent, considered digital transformation strategy that balances short-term business benefits with long-term strategic goals, while factoring in the significant change management requirements to ensure success.


Confident Planning For An Uncertain Future

A coherent digital transformation strategy should begin with a clear understanding of the organization's goals and values. For example, many of the organizations we work with in education and healthcare fundamentally impact the communities they interact with. Rather than viewing generative AI as a threat, they are framing it as a technology that can help them better deliver their business purpose—improving health and education outcomes.


However, the strategy should also consider the potential impact of automation and AI on human workers, including identifying areas where automation and AI can complement human workers rather than replace them. For example, in the healthcare industry, AI can assist doctors and nurses in diagnosing patients rather than replacing them altogether.


One area we have seen have a significant impact is using conversational AI to check in with remote workers and identify potential psychological issues that may develop. These tools can then provide a feedback loop so that the remote worker can seek help before a crisis develops.


Another critical consideration when developing a digital transformation strategy is the need for ongoing training and development. As automation and AI continue to evolve, so too must the skills of human workers.


We have found that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the ongoing development issue. Technical skills can be learned, but it is also essential to understand how the organization's culture operates and where it needs to be.


An excellent digital strategy will let an organization confidently balance adopting robust technology to leverage its existing investments in its people, ensuring not just short-term profit uplift but long-term flexibility and sustained growth.


Conclusion

Automation and AI are transforming the modern workplace at an unprecedented pace. As a business leader, it's crucial to understand how these technologies can benefit the organization while addressing concerns about job displacement and implementation costs.


By developing a comprehensive digital transformation strategy and investing in training and development programs, leaders can leverage the benefits of automation and AI to drive innovation, improve productivity and enhance customer service.

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