Widespread job loss, autonomous robots, humanity being rendered virtually useless as people are thrown into the depths of poverty.
This isn’t the description of some post-apocalyptic film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger or Will Smith. These are the very real fears of many workers across the world as automation and artificial intelligence (A.I.) grow in prominence across all industries and companies — including burger flipping — in what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
According to a study done by the University of Oxford, researchers estimate that in the next 20 years, nearly 47% of U.S. jobs will face their final curtain call because of automation. Additionally, a 2014 Breugel analysis reported that nearly 54% of E.U. jobs were at risk of computerization.
When looking at these numbers, people are understandably concerned about the future of work.
But the future of work isn’t as bleak as these statistics claim. In fact, it’s pretty bright.
Yes, automation and A.I. have disrupted the job market in staggering ways. And yes, they have both changed the ways we define and do work. However, in doing so, both technologies have allowed humans to tap into cognitive skills that many haven’t explored before. And let’s face it, there are certain cognitive abilities and capacities that we possess that are, and will probably remain to be for some time, better than that of our robot counterparts.
Beyond that, automation and A.I. can help us work more effectively and efficiently. Just like the ways we collaborate on a team and have team members bring different valuable skills to the table, so can A.I. and automation. Both technologies are already enabling machines to assist humans with complex tasks like forecasting and have taken over dangerous tasks like stocking the shelves of a warehouse.
But the perks of A.I. and automation aren’t limited to industrial warehouses. They can also be used to make the life of the everyday professional easier. In the same vein of using A.I. to take on tedious tasks like inventory replenishing, these technologies can help the modern worker simplify their workload and help them focus on the bigger picture instead of the little things.
And it doesn’t stop there.
By taking on these functions, they’ve given human workers a chance to explore new growth opportunities and to update their skillset — basically upgrading ourselves like an iPhone to the latest iOS. And even though our personal upgrade won’t give us new emojis (as fun as they are), it’ll ultimately make us more decisive, collaborative, and efficient.
Here are four ways A.I. can help you upgrade your workflow to be more strategic, dynamic, and productive.
A lot of people complain about the amount of time they spend in meetings (virtual and in-person) but scheduling them can be just as much of a pain. A.I. can help break the scheduling shackles by not only finding free time on your and your team’s calendars but also managing attendee responses and feedback. Thus, freeing up your time and inbox so you can give your attention to things and to-do’s that matter.
Being on top of your schedule is essential for team leaders. Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees can boost team morale as well as provide full transparency between all team members, which will build trust between all people involved.
Routine one-on-ones don’t just lead to more engagement, but more productivity.
When it comes to customer service, a human touch is sometimes needed. In other cases, not so much. This is where the chatbot comes in. Teams and companies can use a chatbot to handle basic customer service issues and inquiries like simple how-to’s or troubleshooting an issue.
Many chatbots are programmed with natural language capabilities to either directly respond customer requests or to route the client to a human representative if needed. Incorporating chatbots into your team eliminates the mundane issues that usually make up most customer requests for representatives, while simultaneously streamlining the process for clients. That way, customer service representatives can spend their time and energy on high-priority tickets and concerns.
Drafting and sending e-mails can be a drag — especially when the content in each message remains more or less the same with a few tweaks here and there. This is especially true for marketing and sales teams, where following up on leads and speaking with customers sometimes follows more of a template than a natural conversation. With A.I., the banality of e-mail is nearly banished from everyday tasks.
A.I. features like predictive personalization for e-mail recipients, smart segmentation, optimized e-mail subject lines, e-mail automation workflow, and more can help increase open rates and click-through rates. With these techniques you can spend less time in front of a blank e-mail message trying to figure out what to write and how to write it.
Your Own Personal Assistant
If you consider Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa one of your BFF’s, then you’re quite familiar with the concept behind A.I.-powered personal assistants. From recipe directions to telling you what the weather is in Berlin, A.I. personal assistants have been built to make your life easier. This same notion can be applied to aspects of your workday as well, with A.I. assistants taking over your calendar, setting reminders for your to-do list, and sending meeting requests on your behalf.
It’s time to work smarter, not harder.
I’m Florian Frey, the Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer of Ruum by SAP, SAP’s flagship collaboration and project management software.