Think ‘AI is stealing our jobs’? Then it’s time to think again
by Bridget Perry
Posted on 11-15-2018
In the ongoing debate around the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) one concern crops up time and again; the potential for AI to damage the jobs market. At first glance, the logic seems sound: as AI automates tasks once performed by humans, the job market will shrink.
But if we dig a little deeper into the mechanics of AI, we see the reality is infinitely more complex. Indeed, as is often the case with new technologies, AI seems likely to create as many – if not more – jobs than it displaces.
Analyst house Gartner agrees, predicting AI will generate 2.3 million jobs by 2020, eclipsing the 1.8 million that it will remove.
AI personalisation is changing firms’ hiring policies
Adobe research takes this one step further, exploring how companies are hiring and training staff as they adopt new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to get closer to their customers. In all, 600 senior decision-makers across Europe were interviewed, shedding light on how AI will create jobs and help employees broaden their skillset.
More and more, business leaders see personalised marketing, advertising and customer experiences as key to winning customer loyalty and remaining relevant. AI is critical in achieving this as it can tame and make sense of the vast amounts of customer data businesses collect, enabling them to derive actionable insights on what customers want, when and where.
This drive for AI personalisation is having a significant impact on the hiring policies of enterprises. Our research reveals that brands across Europe recognise the need to bring in new skills to make the most of AI and help them use the technology to deliver more personalised experiences. The scale of this hiring bonanza is impressive: on average, 69% of European businesses said they are hiring as a result of their AI-driven push for improved personalisation.
Employers are looking for a broad range of skills
So, which skills are most in demand? As you might expect, demand for IT skills come out top in Europe (58% of the businesses we spoke to say they’re hiring in this area), followed by data analytics (50%). However, beyond the technical abilities, European businesses see the need for a wider range of skills to bring their personalisation plans to life. These include everything from customer service (48%), advertising (48%) and marketing skills (36%) to skills around change management (36%) and ethical understanding (48%).
Significantly, employers are not only looking outside their business to meet their skills requirements. Seventy per cent of the companies we spoke to said they are training existing staff to ensure they have the skills they need for AI and analytics. This is great news for employees who feel their jobs might be under threat from automation. Through reskilling, many of these employees will be able to find a new role for themselves in the AI economy.
Our research therefore backs up contentions that AI will have a positive impact on jobs – at least when it comes to customer experience functions.
Avoiding AI siloes
There’s one pitfall in particular that organisations should be careful to avoid: organisational siloes. When a new technology like AI comes along, it’s all too easy to think that simply buying the right tools and hiring people with relevant-sounding skills is enough. In fact, all that does is create a siloed ‘bolt-on’ to the business where the data scientists and AI experts carry on with what they’re doing with little or no integration with other customer experience functions.
AI will only deliver the high levels of personalisation required by businesses if the associated technology and people are integrated across the entire business and centred on the customer.
Fit for the future
It is encouraging that our research suggests organisations are investing in a broad range of skills: it indicates that most understand the comprehensive nature of the AI skills challenge. By bringing on the right people and investing in training programmes that will help build a more customer-centric culture across the board, businesses will have the right talent and organisational mindset in place to make their AI investments a success.
From the Industrial Revolution to the onset of the computer age, time and again new technology has displaced old ways of working and provided new ones. It’s the ‘creative disruption’ our economies rely on.
AI will do the same. As businesses become increasingly customer-centric and build new experiences based on unique relationships with individuals, a whole new set of skills will be required as well as a new way of thinking about the customer. Our study suggests that European businesses seem alive to the opportunities on offer, and this will be great news for everyone: employers, employees and customers.
Click here to read our report and learn more about how AI is transforming workplaces in enterprises across Europe, and learn more about the brands using Adobe Sensei to get a head start on AI personalisation.
Topics: Digital Transformation, artificial intelligence, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA