With continuous advances in artificial intelligence and associated technologies, the automation revolution is well under way, and there are no signs it will slow down any time soon. The potential applications of AI extend far beyond chatbots and targeted ads (although these can be incredibly significant productivity and revenue boosters). Companies across industries are pioneering new ways to automate a variety of tasks, freeing up team members for more creative and “human-facing” work.
So what’s the next best step for business leaders who have been hearing about and are now ready to start exploring automation and AI? Below, 10 members of Fast Company Executive Board share how non-tech companies can prepare to meet and embrace a future workplace that’s “superpowered” by automation.
1. FOCUS ON YOUR PURPOSE AND HOW AI CAN SUPPORT IT.
Purpose-driven business is here to stay, and with the spread of purpose-driven AI measuring progress against these ambitions, purpose will continue to live and breathe beyond marketing and communications, helping businesses change the way they operate for the better. – Meggan Wood, Innate Motion
2. START UPSKILLING NOW.
Our collective journey through this terrible pandemic has fully demonstrated the power and potential of automation throughout our entire economy. The resulting acceleration and mass adoption of the same ensures the genie is not going back into the bottle. Stop resisting. Stop delaying. Stop hopeful predictions of a slower rollout. Start upskilling. Start re-engineering. Start being uncomfortable. – Joe Watson
3. UNDERSTAND WHICH PARTS OF YOUR DATA MATTER MOST.
Not only will our experiences be shaped by AI, but the ways our experiences are created will be, too. To prepare, businesses need to get a handle on the parts of their data that matter most to them and lay a foundation for working with it effectively. For most of our clients, that means building out a modular framework so they can flex easily to an uncertain future. – Jason Cottrell, Myplanet
4. SEE HOW AI CAN SUPPLEMENT HUMAN TALENT.
While it has been estimated that artificial intelligence will replace between 20% and 30% of existing jobs in North America by 2030, I believe the four core human traits—creativity, intuition, curiosity, and imagination—will become the most employable skill sets of the next decade, as they will be the last ones to be programmed. – Duncan Wardle, iD8 & innov8
5. RESEARCH AND TEST AUTOMATION TOOLS.
The full-scale automation of content creation isn’t that far away. For non-tech companies, it’s a good idea to simply do their research and test the tools that are available so that they can verify the strengths and weaknesses of these tools for themselves. Whenever such tools become more commonplace, businesses will be ready to leverage the right tools for success. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. DIGITIZE ANY PAPER- OR LABOR-INTENSIVE PROCESSES.
“Document productivity” is an exciting practical application. Because of COVID-19, digital transformation accelerated 10 years in a matter of six months, which means every company is becoming a tech company as they shift from paper to digital. This means any process that used to be paper- or labor-intensive can now be digitized, removing friction and bottlenecks. Once you make this shift, you can automate anything. – Michael Margolis, Storied
7. HARNESS AI TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES.
We’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to realizing the potential of AI and machine learning. Today, many “smart” things, apps, and devices are connected to the internet. The future lies in using AI to increase intelligence, become more predictive, and deliver action in real time. Companies should harness this learning and foresight to continually inform and improve their customer experiences. – Joyce Kim, Genesys
8. START WITH SALES AUTOMATION.
Remote selling is the current “next big thing,” and there’s a need to show more product demos at scale. AI could easily disrupt this space by letting prospects engage with technology rather than sales reps. – Yoav Vilner, Walnut
9. LOOK AT YOUR SECURITY PROCESSES.
Right now, cybersecurity is the greatest challenge organizations face in our virtual work environments. There are too many devices, employees, and—with the proliferation of the Internet of Things—new devices coming online. Using AI and ML to automate security practices will be fundamental to scaling cybersecurity and managing the complexity that the future of work and tech brings. – Becca Chambers, Ivanti
10. CONSIDER THE LARGER SOCIETAL IMPACT.
AI will be able to go places and interact with the physical world in ways the internet cannot. It will have a much greater impact on our daily lives than we know today. Fully autonomous cars are just one tiny example: They will save countless lives due to a drastic decrease in car accidents, but they may also trigger a suburban housing construction boom that wouldn’t be good for the environment. – Rhoden Monrose, CariClub