Last week (October 1-4) was the Gartner Symposium (ITxpo) in Orlando FL. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the talent shortage within AI was certainly the hot topic of the conference. Within the AI topic, there were a couple of interesting focus areas where Ashling Partners took note:
- The Gartner symposium was heavily focused on Artificial Intelligence. “AI will be critical to solving both digital security and the IoT challenges.” Said Peter Sondergaard, EVP and global head of research for Gartner. “Rather than injecting AI experts into the ranks of a company, organizations need to prioritize AI investments from the top down. Because to get to digital and scale, you need to hire leaders who in turn will develop others.”
- Process Automation is becoming more sophisticated and mature and therefore including more artificial intelligence than previous versions. This is allowing newer releases of process automation to “learn” while working through transactions to get even more efficient.
- Although some media portray the growth of artificial intelligence as the “end of employment for people”, we believe this is “fake news” and we were excited to see many organizations that are addressing artificial intelligence agree. There are legitimate concerns about the ability to grow in specific skillsets and/or specific cities and locations of the country. AI will eliminate some jobs without a question. However, Gartner forecasted that while 1.8 million jobs will be lost by 2020, 2.3 million new jobs will be creating from AI-related needs. Process Automation and AI are not replacing employees as much as it is allowing these organizations to continue to grow without the significant subsequent growth in headcount. The existing headcount is allowed to focus on more value-added tasks and empower the organization to be more productive at the same headcount. So far, we have not seen significant headcount reduction.
- An important point not stressed at Gartner Symposium is the coming labor shortage due to Baby Boomer retirement. Ashling Partners believes that even without job creation via AI-related roles, organizations are facing a massive jobs gap that will create an increased need for technologies like RPA. With over 20% of the population forecasted to be over the age of 65 by the year 2030, we don’t see RPA as a good idea, but a necessary one.
- Part of the need to be more efficient with your team, yet not reduce headcount, is the need for what Gartner calls “Bimodal IT”. In short, this is where the organization has resources focus on the efficient operations and predictable change that would normally occur when running the business while simultaneously focusing on “experimental and disruptive change”. In summary “…through bimodal IT, companies can keep systems running while investing in digital technology.” Obviously running two parallel tracks of teams is very difficult and will be rather costly. These costs (both in dollars and time) are all the more reason to focus on efficiency gains. An organization needs to keep their ERP & HR systems up to date, yet still be concentrating on how to best utilize emerging technologieslike blockchain, predictive analytics and AI in their environments. And increasingly, leveraging these emerging technologies to improve ERP & HR Systems. This is quite the conundrum.
Summary – there will be a disruption in how you do your job and what your job entails. Efficiency gains will remove most of the administrative parts of your job. But as long as you are pragmatic and embrace the change, there will be many more roles available to you in AI and innovation. The current is strong, and it seems like the opportunity is in swimming with the current as opposed to against it.