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