There is no question that dramatic change is coming very quickly to the workplace as a result of the integration of AI. AI will bring vast improvements in productivity, freedom from boring repetitive work and improved quality of life. The idea that an entire occupation will be replaced by AI is probably overstated. Certain activities within occupations may be automated and the result may cause the entire business process to be transformed. In the United States this translates to about two trillion dollars in annual wages. Even professionals like physicians, financial managers, CFOs, CEOs and senior executives have parts of the job that can be automated. Research suggest that nearly 45% of activities performed in the workplace can be automated (Michael Chui, 2015, p. 2).
Companies will be leaner and have less hierarchy because every person between decisions and decision makers’ costs money. The impact on the organization of work will depend not so much on physical versus cognitive tasks, but rather on routine versus non routine work (Gerlind Wisskirchen, 2017, p. 48). Companies will focus on core competencies and outsource other areas of work. Data analysis will continue to be strong field fueled by “Big Data” and data science. More traditional specialists and support personnel may be outsourced. Companies will focus on professional connections and a support structure outside the company that will be the basis of success in the digital work environment. The IOT will offer direct connections between customer and suppliers. There will certainly be more autonomy for the worker and this will require more training and ongoing skill development. Matrix structures are already here and more companies may be using them to support both technical and human employment. One of the big questions is the sharing of economic risk between employee and employer. The “Gig” Economy offers freedom and autonomy but the work on demand culture shares risks differently. Entrepreneurial risk has shifted with the independent contractor which has advantages and disadvantages for both parties (Gerlind Wisskirchen, 2017).
The implication for organizational dynamics and leadership are enormous. Leadership will need to align and redefine positions and performance to include automated potential and the economics of automation. The benefits can be much greater than the costs and the magnitude suggests that the ability to transform, staff, lead and manage automation will become a competitive differentiator. AI will support the automation of activities within occupations and cause the redefinition of parts of the job and business processes. In most cases this automation will meet or exceed the current level of human performance. The impact of AI on occupations from retail sales people, to food and beverages servers, to teachers and healthcare practitioners will be significant. Although less than 5% of all occupations will be fully automated, the influence on business and the workplace in general will be enormous (Michael Chui, 2015, p. 5).
What the agile workplace offers workers is the ability to generate a greater amount of meaningful work. As AI replaces more redundant and boring tasks, and routine and repetitive services, employees will be able to focus on creativity and human emotions. Clarity comes to the new workplace by focusing on activities rather than entire occupations. As business intelligence continues to unfold, it is important to develop agile work environments that support evolving business processes. Organizations will become more service oriented, replacing fixed operations with integrated agile and intelligent solutions. This will always be derived from cost benefit analysis and business need (Marinela MIRCEA, 2011). And as organizations leverage not only internal innovation, but also their ecosystem of vendors and distributors, the organization structure fades away to being a more amorphous enterprise of sequential outcomes leading to a business objective, regardless of who or where it is being performed. We are already using customer feedback in form of surveys to gather the results of a process (product sale, customer experience, enjoyable interaction), but with AI, we can make more instantaneous process changes that will directly affect the successful outcome of a transaction.