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23 February 2019
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Machines can't replace emotional intelligence © Shutterstock

13 February 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal


Workplaces are set to become more flexible, agile and responsive, with AI-powered ‘managers’ spotting the best talent and allocating work.


A study by software firm Pega and marketing company Marketforce surveyed 845 senior executives in 2017 working globally in financial services, insurance, manufacturing, telecoms and media, technology, public sector, healthcare and life sciences, energy and utilities, travel, transport and logistics, and retail.


Of those senior managers surveyed, 69 per cent expect the term ‘workforce’ to eventually encapsulate both human employees and intelligent machines because “the cost savings are too compelling for companies to ignore”.


The report states that contrary to doomsday headlines about widespread job losses, the findings suggest that the impact of AI and automation will be “much more nuanced and could even have a positive impact on how we work”.


It says the impact of automation “very much depends on the type of role being automated”, and that “some jobs require emotional intelligence, nuanced judgment and cultural understanding that smart machines just can’t replace”.


So although 70 per cent of our respondents expect artificial intelligence to principally replace human workers in administrative roles within a 20-year time frame, a much smaller proportion – 41 per cent – expect the same fate for human workers in customer-facing roles.


Second, the advent of automation may not mean humans are displaced from the workforce, but rather that they are diverted to other areas of the business.


Customer-facing employees may also find smart machines eliminate the mundanity and frustrations of their day-to-day role.


The report can be found here.