Paul Burrin: Is AI and the human workforce a match made in heaven?

Paul Burrin

Too often, the conversation around artificial intelligence (AI) and the human workforce is about the threat to jobs. The truth, however, is that most roles will evolve to incorporate and coexist with AI.

AI has the potential to take on mundane, repetitive tasks, freeing up employees’ time to focus on doing what they love, improving their workforce experiences, driving productivity and contributing to better business performance.

It also presents an opportunity to optimise processes and improve results. Sweating the small stuff: the impact of the bureaucracy burden, research by Sage and Plum published in September 2017, suggests that 55% of small and medium enterprises are still using methods such as spreadsheets or pen and paper to track their data. It is no wonder businesses spend 120 days per year on admin alone. That is more than a third of each year that businesses spend on tasks that add no value. AI can enable better efficiency with these tasks through automation, meaning employees can focus on what matters.

This is not future-gazing; AI is helping the human workforce now. We are already seeing HR teams able to gain more data on their people, so as to better manage and retain employees by understanding behaviours and motivations. So, by using AI-enabled technology, businesses can extract actionable knowledge from data to influence the decisions they make about people and processes. This might sound like an obvious thing to do, but Sage’s Becoming a people company: the way to unlock fast-track growth report, published in May 2017, suggested that only 34% of organisations are currently using data and analytics for making people decisions.

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By taking this approach, businesses can begin to make sense of the information gathered from employees and get to the heart of the issues affecting employees. This will allow them to put the necessary plans in place to provide greater employee experiences, something that today’s workforce is demanding.

Paul Burrin is vice president at Sage People