Artificial Intelligence: The Business Reality and Human Impact

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The impact which artificial intelligence and disruptive technology is having on businesses and the workplace has long been heralded. However, the sci-fi hype surrounding deep learning, algorithms and bots is distracting from the actual impact. Many have perhaps not recognised that machine learning and disruptive technology is a digital opportunity which is already having a very real impact on business strategies and the workplace. Let’s take a look at how disruptive technology is shaping business, including the human impact, and think about how to prepare for the next digital wave.


Don’t fight the digital tide


An accepted definition for AI is the simulation of human intelligence within machines, as they attempt to replicate human reasoning. However, many of the technology businesses that iMultiply works with, in our capacity as finance and executive recruitment consultants, have pointed out that this is often interpreted the wrong way, either intentionally or not. AI is often misconstrued to mean a machine which is capable of cognitive reasoning and is also capable of plotting to replace humans in the workplace.


Where does this leave us? Are the rumours true - are robots going to literally change the face of business forever? In reality, AI refers to machine learning, or ‘deep learning’, which in practice is already being used to great effect in organisations such as Xero, Amazon, Bloomberg and the NHS to collect and analyse vast amounts of data with the aim of improving and communicating products and services. So, it is perhaps best to keep an open mind when it comes to considering integrating AI and disruptive technology into your business and when the time is right testing and retesting where it would fit best.


As Colin Hewitt, CEO of Float, a cloud-based finance forecasting company confirms, 'It is about exploring some of the areas where AI is being used effectively and how we can prepare for making the most of our data when the time comes to use it.'


In finance and accountancy, AI is increasingly being integrated into data-driven work to categorise information, automate compliance and collate reports. The ultimate goal is to unlock precious business time and resource, improve efficiency and eliminate errors.


However, Stephen Ingledew, FinTech Scotland CEO warns that although AI technology is delivering better customer and business outcomes, 'Success will be dependent upon a collaborative approach between universities, entrepreneurial FinTechs and established businesses who want to embrace change.'


Relax, it’s not about cyborgs taking over the planet


By 2030, as many as 375 million people worldwide will need to switch occupations as a result of disruptive technology, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Does it follow then, that those facing radical changes to their roles as a result of artificial intelligence will not be able to adapt?


Sudden advances in technology have always at first been greeted with distrust. As a recruiter, I remember when LinkedIn was expected to replace the recruitment industry. Similar to the introduction of LinkedIn to the workforce, disruptive technology like AI can only enhance the way we work by enabling us to work smarter through new avenues of interaction and efficiency. Innovation is certainly not to be shied away from, even if it means that new skills will need to be acquired to optimise and keep pace.


It’s time to diversify and soften up


PWC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study highlights that by 2030 45% of total economic gains will come from AI improving products. In the face of these facts, it is perhaps time to take a look at your skill-set and decide where you will fit into this digitally driven future. As Melinda Matthews, Codeclan CEO questions, 'who will be the human face of the digital future?’


On the one hand upskilling your digital abilities to ensure that you can optimise new technology would be a shrewd move, but on the other we may also see a continued shift towards the importance of ‘softer skills’ such as creative thinking, teamwork, business development and leadership.


If you are interested in joining a technology or entrepreneurial business, please contact Kirsty Mackenzie, iMultiply CEO for a confidential discussion: