When asked to share where I’m focussing my personal development in 2018 the answer was easy. I’ll be focussing on learning more about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and importantly preparing myself for how AI will revolutionise management thinking about leadership, innovation and performance improvement.
Admittedly, AI has been around for 60 years, but with the immense volumes of data being acquired as standard and automated data capture capabilities from the Internet of Things, we are seeing an explosion in the progress of data science. This has lit the blue touch paper needed for AI to become a reality in numerous ways rather than just a concept.
Vocabulary such as Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL), Natural Language Processing (NLP), narrow AI, Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), AI-enabled, neural network specialists and intelligent technology will become common place before we know it. Ignoring AI is no longer an option as its impact will shape all of our roles in the future – in many different ways.
International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated the AI market will grow from $8 billion in 2016 to almost $50 billion in 2020. Forrester Research predicted a 300% increase in AI investments in 2017 compared to 2016 and China has committed to a plan they believe will position them as world leaders in AI by 2030, building an industry worth $150 billion.
In my career so far I’ve seen how accelerations in mobility and the Internet both changed how employers thought about their workforce and employees thought about their skillsets. There’s a feeling of deja-vu for me having written and presented in the early nineties about the importance of ‘Adapting to a Changing Landscape’. Back then the letter e with a colon became not just a common prefix but a catalyst for complete strategy rethinks and the creation of huge new industries as well as careers.
My early readings on the subject of AI leave me excited and encouraged. It seems that whilst AI systems will have many strengths over a human when it comes to processing and learning it will be second best when it comes to satisfying a need for creativity, innovation or empathy. Skills linked to persuasion, emotional intelligence, imagination, collaboration, building rewarding cultures and remaining ethical are some talents that will be difficult to code.
For those of you have ever read other articles I’ve written, this isn’t a u-turn. I still remain confident that when it comes to bidding our leadership must still create the model conditions where everyone involved can do their most productive, courageous and inspired thinking – together as a team. People will remain at the heart of successful bidding.
However, there will be change. I can see a time when bid/no bid decisions are linked to much more sophisticated systems that automatically analyse the content of pre-bid capture interactions and make clear recommendations based on the data. Resumes and telephone interview responses are already capable of being auto-analysed by AI systems in the recruitment sector to perform shortlisting. How long before our bids are produced by systems that create optimum responses based on intelligence gathering throughout pursuit activities. Whilst those bids go on to be evaluated by machines not people, which provide a clear recommendation to a senior decision maker. Where the decision maker has much less involvement in the process than we would traditionally expect.
The reality is that many roles at every level throughout an organisation involve what are essentially routine, process driven and analytical activities – which AI systems will be much more capable of performing. These systems also require significantly less supervision than humans to ensure consistency across departments.
AI systems won’t replace humans in the workplace, they will simply redesign the roles we perform and hopefully how people think about work and how employers think about people.
People will matter even more. That’s because it is people who will provide the skills needed to enable creative and innovative thinking. It is that thinking that will drive progress throughout this fourth industrial revolution.
In light of that, we need to start thinking now about the possibilities for AI and preparing ourselves for it – if you haven’t already. Those who do will be best positioned to take advantage of opportunities for more enriched creative roles in environments which will be more closely linked to human well-being than human output.
This article was written by Pete McPartland.
Peter joined Weightmans LLP as tendering manager in 2007 following 15 years in the IT industry. He has a Masters degree in marketing and has held chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing for over a decade. The first UK law firm employee to achieve the APMP Certified Professional qualification (Association of Proposal Management Professionals), Peter is also a winner of an APMP UK award for Innovation.