Workforce pivot to AI, human-machine collaboration now a must: report

By Rafi Koteh

Technology service behemoth Accenture has released a report highlighting the major growth opportunities offered by artificial intelligence (AI) and how businesses risk being left behind if they do not immediately pivot their workforce to collaborate with intelligent technology.

Accenture PH country managing director Lito Tayag (right) expounding the report to reporters from Manila and Cebu

According to the report, businesses investing in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top performing companies could boost revenues by 38 percent by 2022. This increase would raise global profits by $4.8 trillion over the same period.

Lito Tayag, country managing director of Accenture Philippines, said during a roundtable discussion with reporters said that 54 percent of the 1,200 managers surveyed believe AI and human-machine collaboration is important to their strategic priorities.

Employees had a similar response as 69 percent of the 14,000 participating workers said that it was important to develop skills to work with intelligent machines.

Tayag described the employees as “impatient” when it comes to the need for retooling. He pointed out, however, that there is a gap between the worker’s impatience and the efforts of the management to prepare workers.

Despite the majority of both employees and managers agreeing that AI could positively impact their businesses, only 3 percent of business leaders will significantly increase their investment in reskilling their workforce in the next three years. This underinvestment could jeopardize an organization’s growth, the report warned.

The study stressed three courses of actions for business leaders in closing the disconnect: reimagine work, pivot the workforce, and scale up ‘new skilling”.

“Reimagining the work means assessing the tasks, not the jobs,” Tayag said. “In other words, you need to assess what component can be done by the machine and what can be done by humans.”

Intelligent technology saves on costs and allows human employees to be free to do other tasks, he said. Business leaders must then create a new, enriched job descriptions so their people can be retrained.

For its part, Accenture said it funnels 60 percent of the money saved on automation into retraining or pivoting its workforce.

Meanwhile, “pivoting the workforce” is aligning employees with the new digital collaboration business models by preparing them to be flexible and create new customer experiences.

It also means changing the mindset of the businesses’ leaders so that they are driven to take full advantage of the growth opportunity, the report said.

“We didn’t have to fire them because their jobs have changed. In fact, we retrained them into a better value proposition as far as their job is concerned,” Tayag stated.

Lastly, “scale up new skilling” means measuring the workforce’s level of skills and willingness to learn to work with AI. Accenture said it has personalized programs for each of these segments to improve skill adoption.

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