Did ATMs wipe out the bank tellers? No. Did PDFs wipe out the print industry? No. Did self-service checkout wipe out cashiers? Still no. Still, many jobs are changing thanks to the onslaught of automation and AI, resulting in types of new roles and responsibilities. It's inevitable that artificial intelligence is going to touch every job, every career, in one way or another. It's time to strategize and get ahead of the curve.
With this in mind, Ravin Jesuthasan and Dr. John Boudreau provide a roadmap on preparing and getting the best out the increasing trend toward automation and AI -- with sound advice on deconstructing and re-constructing jobs in the face of automation, and, ultimately, AI. In their forthcoming book, Reinventing Jobs, they advocate for new tools, approaches and thinking for redefining work in the era of AI.
Look at banks tellers and ATMs, for example. Jesuthasan, managing director at Willis Towers Watson, and Boudreau, a professor at the University of Southern California, note that despite all predictions made a few years back, ATMs have not replaced bank tellers. Instead, the role of the teller has evolved beyond its transactional role to that of customer care representative, the human face within a hybrid banking structure.
Many other jobs will be shredded in the months and years to come, with some tasks elevated and others automated. Knowing what to expect and laying the groundwork for new possibilities is key. Jesuthasan and Boudreau provide the following advice for reinventing your job for the AI era:
Deconstruct your job. Review your job description and its tasks, outcomes, and competencies -- as well as the work you do outside of the job description, they state. Determine whether the tasks are: "repetitive or variable; independent or interactive; and physical or mental." Then, imagine how your job description may read in the future, they advise. "Remove the tasks where automation will substitute for humans. What types of work will remain? What work elements might be added to your job as it evolves? How does that align with your unique skills?"
Assess the ROIP of work tasks, or "return on improved performance." You can develop a sense of ROIP in discussions with colleagues across your organization, Jesuthasan and Boudreau observe. Ask the following questions: "For the tasks that add ROIP by avoiding mistakes, could robots, robotic process automation (RPA), of cognitive automation, better reduce human error? For tasks that add incremental value, will automation help you move up and the right on the ROIP curve? For tasks that create exponential ROIP, how will automation create whole new kinds of work?"
Identify automation options. There are three types of automation at the forefront these days-- RPA, cognitive automation, and social robotics. "Determining which types of automation will apply to your work will help you understand the likely speed and consequences of automation for you."
Optimize work. The productivity boost AI makes possible creates new opportunities and new tasks.
Find your place in the organization. It may look very different in a couple of years from what it looks like today. It may be less structured and hierarchical. "The future organization will be a hub of work arrangements" with "free agents, talent platforms, volunteers, alliances outsourcing, robotics, and AI," Jesuthasan and Boudreau suggest.
As many teaks continue to be automated, tasks are changing -- it's key to reframe and rethink job roles in the context of AI and automation, Jesuthasan and Boudreau urge. "You need a work-automation strategy that recognizes the nuances, realizes the benefits, and avoids needless cost and disruption."