18 January 2018
Businesses do not fear the emergence of robotic ‘co-workers,’ according to a new global study released by Pegasystems.
The customer engagement software specialist asked 396 senior executives about their views on the increased role AI and automation will play in the future workplace.
Respondents were from various key industry sectors including financial services, insurance, manufacturing, telecoms and media, public sector and retail.
The survey found that 86 per cent were comfortable with the introduction of machine ‘co-workers’ into the workplace.
More than two thirds (67 per cent) said that in the future they expected the term ‘workforce’ to cover both intelligent machines as well as humans.
Pegasystem also discovered that the expectation AI will replace human workers in administrative roles is high – 70 per cent expect this to happen within 20 years.
However, 69 per cent said the automation of previously manual processes will enable those in such jobs to be diverted into other areas of the business instead of facing redundancy.
When asked if they would like to be managed by AI themselves, UK managers revealed some initial resistance. More than four out of five said they would not be comfortable here, although 65 per cent said they would feel more at ease with this prospect if there was complete transparency and accountability as to how the bot reached its management decisions.
According to UK business leaders, greater use of AI will create much better working conditions for human workers.
Only 38 per cent expect the technology to replace people in customer-facing roles in 20 years time, while 74 per cent think it will become standard practice for AI to be used to suggest next-best-actions to customer service agents within the next five years.
Pegasystems’ director John Everhard says the study shows that fears about intelligent machines ultimately making humans subservient or even obsolete in the workplace are misguided.
“The fact is, there’s a growing understanding of the value AI and robotic process automation can add. By working alongside machines and using them to augment rather than replace existing human workforces, organisations can make themselves smarter, more efficient, and more effective, while ensuring more rewarding and satisfying jobs for their employees in the process.”