Far too often executives see only the short run and don’t deal with the magnitude of overall change because the scale and scope are too much to handle. Change in small and large organizations can be overwhelming. While leading agile transformations in the workplace may be challenging, trying to compete in a new market place with technologies so advanced will be even more prodigious. Leadership needs to take ownership. These technologies offer new challenges and opportunities and no one is going to get it all right all the time, so learning and adjusting as the organization moves through change and grow will be paramount.
Changes in the workplace will start at the enterprise level with a commitment to continuous improvement in products and services. The first step is to organize and commit to clear business objectives. Next, form a team that will lead the workplace with continuous improvement processes. Employees need to understand the importance of transformation to an agile work environment. They need to be engaged in all aspects of the process and supported with learning and development opportunities (Mouser, 2015).
The majority of CEO’s, about 71% are sure that the next few years will be more strategically important than the last fifty (Gerlind Wisskirchen, 2017, p. 21). Companies already use intelligent systems and this trend will continue to grow. Often there is difficulty in connecting new systems with established systems. There needs to be a greater understanding of the employees’ physical and cognitive processes, in the context of a relevant task, so that this can be used when programming the systems. Much work will need to be done to overcome the resistance to AI systems and to equip future workers with the required skills. AI instills fear mostly of a plant or corporate closure because of gross mismanagement. Employees fear massive job cutbacks and lack of retraining. Economics supports that labor is expensive and machines, once the original cost is overcome, are more competitive than humans in the job market. Employees need to be involved in the development and process of change. They need to understand the implications of implementation of the technologies and the future.
This will also cause upheaval in the education system. Future educational directions must support design thinking and encourage creativity. Educational curriculums will be designed to engage with the work and integrate degree programs with the creative work at the company. Adaptability is one of the major challenges humans will face. Those that can adapt to an agile environment will thrive, while those that cannot adapt will struggle. Employees must always be willing to learn new skills. The challenge for schools and colleges will be to teach students soft skills such as: reliability, communication skills, social interactions, good time management, accepting criticism and always, always continuing to learn (Gerlind Wisskirchen, 2017).
Impact on Employee Perceptions
From the beginning the concept and then the creation of AI in all it various forms has caused a sense of trepidation and fear in the workplace. Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001, with its evil computer Hal, exemplified the fears expressed by humans, that AI could be a threat to human existence. AI is no longer on the horizon, in many areas it has arrived. In the short term, AI will not rival the Hal, but could very easily and rapidly change the shape of the workplace. This has already begun. Clever Machines, robots, chatbots, smartbots and IOT have begun to infiltrate the work environment undertaking tasks done by humans and capable of destroying millions of jobs almost overnight. Elon Musk and Steven Hawkins were just a few of the advanced thought futurists to believe that AI, much like the Internet, comes with challenges (Cellan-Jones, 2014).
Bill Gates is also among the technology giants to point out, rather vehemently, that AI could cause unprecedented unemployment very quickly. Smart Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Algorithms (STARA) could eliminate one third of the jobs that exist today by 2025. The quickening evolution of these technologies is compounded by significant improvements in robots and inexpensive autonomous units that can easily outperform humans. Examples include: retail self-checkouts, smart phone applications, automated accounting, IOT, driverless cars and chatbots taking orders in fast food lines. The cost benefits to business are enormous and makes it difficult to continue to consider humans in some roles moving forward. Many of these jobs are high paying middle class jobs and many of these jobs are in the service sector. Even those jobs that will not be eliminated will be disrupted by STARA. Many of these jobs will not be replaced. The incentive to replace employees in the service sector is the highest, because these account for the great overheads within a given business. It’s not just low paying jobs, but any job that can be routine enough to automate and simple enough to codify is susceptible to STARA (Haar, 2017, pp. 240-241)
This brings to light an entirely new perspective on how employers and educators must see jobs and careers and how learning and development needs to support employment. Careers need to be viewed as dynamic and borderless. We need to educate and train employees not for one organizational setting but for dynamic, ever-changing and evolving work environments. These changes are wide and deep particularly in managing careers. They have huge implications for people at work and how organizations will manage and compensate them. Career satisfaction and turnover are just two of so many issues that will be affected by new technologies. This invasion of STARA will effect younger and older workers. The main impact of the effects will fall on those entering the workforce now and moving forward.
The implications for education are huge. Colleges, universities and training institutions need to understand the costs of education and that it needs to be about employment. As industries and economic sectors go into decline, educators need to focus on employment not on employability at a national and global level (Haar, 2017).
Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) has changed and evolved. As AI and other smart technologies move the workplace forward, these technologies need to be embedded in the learners’ everyday lives, supporting their culture, practices, objectives and societies. Current classroom pedagogy needs to expand to include a wider collaboration of learners with instructors, diversifying technologies and content domains. The goal of education needs to move away from a definitive body of knowledge towards giving learners the tools to become adaptive experts and on the job learners. The curriculum must expand to include not just soft skills but knowledge application, collaboration and self-regulation.
Assessments too must change to capture learning pathways and processes. Practices must include formative and summative assessments that measure just in time support and authentic work elements. The movement will be toward supporting learning anytime and anyplace, not restricted to a system or a structure. Teachers are no longer sages but are guides to the integration of the technologies and applications for seeking, finding independent, collaborative thought. Learning will focus on the authentic everyday tasks and challenges, context and actions. Embedding the learning in context will make it more relevant and real. Researchers must be bold and willing to take on new challenges, take greater risks and tackle new contexts and domains. Interactive learning environments will be more than just domain knowledge. These environments will be built to support life-long learning growth, peer interactions, and act as intelligent tutors and perhaps mentors or life coaches (Wylie, 2016).