Rage against the machines?

Rage against the machines?

Jeffrey Tan & Benjamin Cher
12/10/18, 11:28 am

SINGAPORE (Oct 12): While much has been said about jobs being taken over by robots, many experts still see human talent working alongside AI to deliver the most productive outcome. In fact, a company’s adoption of technology could help its employees become more fulfilled.

“[Technology adoption] opens doors for workers to perform higher-value work and develop soft skills,” says Deloitte Southeast Asia’s Indranil Roy. “It also opens more opportunities to create new jobs that are increasingly contingent in nature (for example, gig and off-balance sheet workers), allowing more flexibility and control of the work that workers want to do.”

Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director at Willis Towers Watson, highlights that technology does not affect jobs, but tasks within a job. And it is up to the company to discern which tasks are better automated.

In the case of a call centre, Jesuthasan says AI capabilities can be used to detect the underlying emotions of a customer within seconds of a call. If the AI senses distress in the voice of a customer, the call will be connected to the most experienced call operator. The AI will also prompt the usage of appropriate phrases and words.

In an oil and gas company, tasks which are repetitive, dirty, dangerous and prone to errors were automated while the workers reassigned to take on problem-solving, maintenance and monitoring jobs.

This creates a win-win situation for both the company and its employees, says Jesuthasan. And given the higher skills required to operate automation technology, employees were compensated higher. At the same time, the rig was more productive and profitable than before, which helped to offset the higher spend on wages.

Given workers at both ends of the skills spectrum are just as susceptible to being either displaced or fulfilled, how can workers and companies get on the right side of progress?

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