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PHOTO: Markus Spiske

We are rapidly moving toward a workplace where people interact with machines on a routine basis. With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), and the chatbots that it powers, technology is now interwoven into many of our everyday job tasks. In fact, it has been reported that more than 80 percent of businesses plan to be using chatbots by 2020. 

Over the past few years, technology has made huge advances in approximating human interaction, especially when it comes to speech recognition and detection of emotions, visual cues and voice intonation. From Alexa to Siri to Google Home, these technologies are becoming more ubiquitous at a tremendous pace and will have a big impact on how we perform our jobs in the years to come.

AI is set to impact work in three major ways: human-to-machine interaction, smart process automation and advanced analytics. Let’s look at each of those in turn.

Human-to-Machine Interaction

Human-to-machine interaction is becoming more and more advanced, and today the goal is to make machines interact in as human-like ways as possible. Machines are just now starting to be able to detect emotion in our voices and in our written words, and they can learn to change their responses accordingly.

In particular, chatbots demonstrate how technology is increasingly able to capture the human essence by evoking and responding to human emotions and actions. For example, the next generation of Siri has a much more human-like voice and better intonation. That all comes from machine learning and AI. Many enterprise-grade chatbot platforms also support cognitive emotion detection.

So how does this impact our work?

With these advances, people don’t need to master complex menus or learn how to program or how to operate things. Interacting with machines via the spoken word, they can simply ask a question or state a command and a machine will autonomously provide answers and assist in completing tasks. It’s like having a personal assistant or a second set of hands available to you on the job at all times.

Related Article: Where AI Is Working, Where AI Needs Work

Smart Process Automation

AI will also affect work through smart process automation, the elimination of work and the labor arbitrage associated with replacing people with bots. Today, machines are already responsible for much of the basic work being done across many industries. From robotic process automation to natural language document translation to fielding customer service requests, they are becoming smarter and more capable.

Although machines powered by AI can complete some tasks, they can’t totally replace humans — yet. The creativity and agility of the human brain is something that machines have yet to master. Take journalism, for instance. AI-powered machines today can independently write a fairly good basic news story. But although they can do a lot of it — likely about 80 percent — some of the nuanced and stylistic elements of writing and editing are best left to humans, at least for now.

While there is no question that machines’ capabilities will continue to improve and expand, potentially resulting in the displacement of more human workers, the knowledge and aptitude of people will still be very much needed in the future.

Related Article: Business Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation: How to Choose

Advanced Analytics

The third way AI impacts businesses is through advanced analytics — using data to find patterns and then using machine learning to discover insights. This really gets to the heart of the question “How are AI-powered machines and chatbots changing the future of work?”

Advanced analytics and AI-based machine learning are about discovering patterns in data and using those identified patterns to generate value. It helps companies better plan business operations and better understand customers. This technology enables business leaders to gain insight into their organizations as they function, allowing them to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve overall customer satisfaction. In today’s digital age, companies must act quickly, and often in real time. That’s why advanced analytics is becoming essential for organizations that want to be truly insight-driven.

In fact, companies today are becoming more customer-centric as digital technologies pervade day-to-day experiences. As a result, it is critically important to truly know customers’ likes and dislikes, demographic attributes and other factors associated with enhancing both revenue and engagement. In large part, companies can achieve this through the application of advanced analytics, machine learning and real-time personalization of content and interaction. Taken a step further, advanced AI techniques can be used to predict the actions of customers and, with that information, offer different products or services at the right time through the right digital channel.

We truly are living in interesting times, with advances coming at a rapid-fire pace. AI, a truly disruptive technology, is impacting how we work, live and play. AI is powering machines that can communicate conversationally with humans, augment and/or fully automate knowledge work, and discover patterns in data, allowing organizations to become insight-driven.

Organizations today must take all of these things into consideration in order to be competitive in the business world of tomorrow.