We’ve all heard that AI is set to transform the workplace and how employees perform their roles, but what are we actually talking about when we discuss AI?
AI is the development of computerized systems that perform tasks that have previously required human input, with one of its key advantages being the ability to learn with experience and improve performance. AI relies on complex algorithms and extensive data analysis, and repeating tasks generates more data for the algorithm to work with in order to find new solutions with more favorable outcomes.
Examples of tasks made possible through AI include natural language processing (computers understanding language), image recognition (computers identifying images), and problem-solving (computers finding the optimal solution for a given scenario).
For the most part, AI is transforming the workplace through software, not hardware. With some exceptions (e.g., warehousing and logistics), AI doesn’t mean physical robots are replacing employees but rather a new approach to operations based on maximizing efficiency.
So, what does AI mean for the future of the workforce?
AI’s effect on workforce structure and composition
Recent research studied the workforce composition of US firms, revealing significant use of AI technologies. These studies found substantial changes to how these companies structure their workforce and the types of employees that they hire.
Incorporating AI led to flatter hierarchical structures with a more significant share of non-management roles. Having AI to help guide decisions offers employees more autonomy and reduces the need for middle management.
Research also revealed that AI-focused firms also have highly educated workforces with more employees from STEM and IT backgrounds.
AI has big plans for the future of accounting. For starters, the field requires a lot of data entry and classification-tasks ideal for automation using smart AI systems that can infer context and learn from previous transactions.
Accounting’s documentation trail is already primarily digital, and when physical paper is used, it is invariably also scanned and stored electronically. Using natural language processing, AI can scan and decipher the meaning of each document, extracting the pertinent information to build smart databases that streamline bookkeeping. With AI, future businesses will be able to access any data they need immediately, spending significantly less time tracking their accounts.
AI also has the potential to:
- Eliminate human error caused by lapses in concentration while performing simple, repetitive tasks.
- Allow large and complex data to be processed quickly.
- Remove any delays between the actual transaction and when it is recorded to create real-time books.
- Help spot unusual activity that might signify fraud.
With AI shouldering the number-crunching burden, future accountants will focus more on tasks that require human ingenuity, such as financial advice and long-term strategy.
AI resources that optimize human resources
AI and automation are already finding use within HR departments, and the future promises more to come. AI will become an essential tool for numerous HR functions, such as:
- Recruitment: Manually screening CVs, identifying suitable candidates, and scheduling interviews is a lengthy process. With AI on your side, organizations can reduce applications into a shortlist of the best candidates for a given role. Then, informed by AI-powered tools, humans can take over when interviewing and selecting the final hire.
- Performance management: Installing continuous feedback mechanisms allows AI to transform how organizations assess employee performance. AI will provide the insights needed to maximize team performance, from evaluating productivity to setting new individual goals that align with the company’s mission.
- Engagement: With accurate employee feedback, AI can also determine personalized programs that drive engagement for each team member, boosting job performance and helping talent retention.
- Operations: Administrative HR activities such as managing payroll and employee expenses will no longer require significant human input. Instead, AI software can take over running these relatively simple and repetitive tasks.
Finding the right audience with AI-driven marketing
In marketing, getting the right audience is often more important than delivering the right content. With the vast amount of data available online, AI can segment and continually subdivide a business’s target audience based on a massive number of factors. This allows for smart tailored advertising based on a better-defined consumer persona, increasing a company’s marketing ROI.
On top of that, AI-driven marketing can help identify entirely new audiences for a product that organizations may have previously overlooked.
AI also improves accuracy when determining the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. Getting inside the consumer’s mind and understanding what affects purchasing intent is not a simple task. With technology tracking higher quality and quantity of data, marketers can use AI to continuously test new strategies and find the optimal approach.
Improving customer services with AI
A common way businesses already utilize AI is through smart chatbots to improve customer service. Chatbots offer a low-cost method of ensuring 24-hour customer service, providing an instant response and relevant information for consumers who need help. Chatbots can solve simple inquiries or ascertain critical information to improve the response time when human intervention is necessary.
The competitive edge of technology
AI is truly exceptional at finding patterns in data. Many situations described above come down to an AI-powered algorithm scouring through datasets and spotting emerging patterns.
- This is the pattern of typical financial transactions within the business. Therefore, we should flag any transactions that deviate from this pattern for investigation.
- These are the characteristics of successful employees at the company. Let’s apply this pattern to a database of new CVs and LinkedIn profiles.
- This pattern of behavior creates the best chance of an advertising impression translating into a sale.
Identifying the underlying patterns within data generates new insights. This can help find the optimal approach for a given scenario in the workplace, leading to increased efficiency and the competitive edge businesses need in the modern marketplace.