Would you willingly and happily ask an automated assistant to do the administrative tasks that are a part of your working day? It's a question we asked UK workers and a third of them said they would be more than happy to pass on these tasks to some kind of smart software to handle. Moreover, over half think predictive software will be capable of doing 10 per cent of our jobs in the very near future.
Millennials, those who have grown up with Siri and smartphones, are the most inclined to think this is the future whilst the over 55s need a bit more convincing. The millennial generation, which have played games like Halo, which is where Microsoft has taken the name of their upcoming rival to Siri, Cortana, have been brought up to see the benefits rather than the threats of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what it will bring to future workforces.
Had we asked this question a few years ago, the answers might have been very different. AI has come a long way from its apocalyptic portrayal in movies like The Terminator, and now more and more people are seeing the benefits of what a little AI can do. Will it ever be able to replace workers in all their roles? Highly doubtful. We are far from the day when a cognitive AI service can be totally independent, so the risk of people's jobs being taken by a piece of code is still closer to science fiction than reality. Even when a genius like Stephen Hawking has his doubts about AI, saying "creating Artificial Intelligence will be the biggest event in human history....it might also be the last", we are clearly a long away from this happening. In the meantime, we can take advantage of what is and what will be soon available to handle some of the more mundane tasks allowing us to focus on the more important things.
But it is interesting that so many people would welcome it and are indeed expecting a form of AI to be incorporated into their everyday working lives. Given this groundswell of opinion, it's another consideration CIOs and IT managers should be contemplating as part of their IT strategies in the years to come.
Whilst potential AI services are not going to be leaking important information or handling the most sensitive of tasks, it is worth working out the exact sweet spots where it could be applied. For example, if you have a dispersed workforce who are on the road a lot, then why not help them with using AI to plot the optimum routes which change and alter as road traffic or the weather changes? If you are a service organization that must comply with strict compliance regulations or handle tasks in specific order for safety concerns, then a smart assistant can help details work processes and prompt engineers through their day to keep workers safe and companies free from hefty fines.
It's small things like this where AI will really sing for businesses, but the trick will be getting that forward planning done before these products have been fully realised. It's a big chance for IT teams to get on the front foot and create policies which will have a tangible and immediate benefit for the bottom line.