Insights

Three Steps to Building a Superhuman Workforce

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) hails the fourth industrial revolution – the most significant shift since the introduction of personal computing in the 1980s. Does this mean we’ll all be downing tools and replaced by robots? Is AI a threat to jobs? No, we believe the progress of AI in the workplace will allow us to create a super-human workforce.

Firstly, what is Artificial Intelligence?

AI is a cluster of technologies that allows machines to understand and learn and to use that understanding and knowledge to make decisions. In other words, a technology that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence such as, perception, speech recognition, decision making and natural language processing.

Why does Artificial Intelligence matter?

AI will transform how our business operates from people to process.

Recent reports from the McKinsey Global Institute find:

  • AI has the potential to deliver 13 trillion of additional global economic activity by 2030, increasing GDP by an average of 1.2% per year over the next 12 years
  • 14% of the global workforce may need to change occupations, that’s up to 375 million workers

For organisations to maximise the potential of AI, they will need to harness the interaction of humans and machines, not remove the workforce altogether. Businesses will require a workforce that can enable machines, while machines augment that workforce’s abilities – resulting in a superhuman workforce. Achieving this requires investment in your people, as well as technology.

What does a superhuman workforce look like -how AI is transforming the workplace

The uses of artificial intelligence in the workplace are vast, with a number of businesses already harnessing the power of human and machine interactions.

Businesses using Artificial Intelligence

  • AI is already in place within manufacturing production lines such as Hyundai (click here for more information), augmenting the strength and precision of workers. It will allow companies to increase the scope of jobs to include tasks like using analytics to identify machine maintenance processes pro-actively before they even break down.
  • AI can also be used to support the creative industry. For example, ‘Dreamcatcher’ is an AI tool supporting designers. Designers provide Dreamcatcher with criteria about a desired product e.g. a chair able to support 200 pounds of weight with materials costing up to £70. The AI can then churn out thousands of designs which match those criteria to help spark ideas that the designer may not have thought of initially.
  • Business functions such as HR can use AI to support strategic workforce decisions. For example, AI can make sense of large sets of people and geographical data in real-time to support decisions such as where to move an office or create targeted talent management strategies (click here for a demo).
How to start creating a superhuman workforce

To truly create a superhuman workforce, organisations must focus on three critical people aspects over and above new technologies. 

  1. Structure an organisation that can evolve

The pace of technology change is destroying and creating jobs at an increasingly fast rate. The introduction of AI in the workplace will require an organisation to adapt and evolve at an unprecedented pace. AI has and will take over repetitive tasks, such as supermarket checkouts to allow individuals to pay as they walk out the door without queuing. Another example is automated passport controls to identify high-risk individuals.

More importantly, AI will create new job opportunities for people. It will create new roles where humans and machines work side by side. For example, roles to train AI implemented in organisations or audit AI performance to ensure safety.

  1. Invest in your people, not just technology to prevent a mismatch of skills

The application of AI in the workplace will continue to evolve at an increasing rate. Fostering skills in collaboration, creativity, innovation and adaptability will be key.  Organisations will need to create a workforce that is willing to re-train to work alongside AI and evolve to fulfil the new roles that AI will create. If organisations don’t invest in their people now, a number of skills in today’s workforce will no longer be relevant. Parts of the workforce could find their skills are no longer relevant in the employment market resulting in unemployment and ultimately, greater social inequality. Organisations should not underestimate the size of this transition. Employees must be re-assured and involved throughout to ensure a smoother transition to a new way of working.

  1. Create a culture of continuous learning

Shifting the focus of existing roles, and creating new ones, that allow humans to work alongside AI is reliant on workforces that continuously re-skill, re-educate, and re-train themselves. Organisations must create a culture of continuous learning to enable their workforce to adapt and move into new roles. Organisations should build learning into the day-to-day life of an employee through informal, practical and accessible learning opportunities across a variety of platforms. Relevant content should be pushed at the right time and point of need and shared through communities of practice. 

References: McKinsey, 2018. Notes from the AI frontier: Modeling the impact of AI on the World Economy