What is the Future for Managers in the Age of AI?

Rob Press -
managers and ai
Illustration: © IoT For All

In 2020, the World Economic Forum released “The Future of Jobs Report” which made all sorts of astonishing predictions about how artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation would alter the workforce over the next five years. The most startling prediction – one that’s been echoed by other industry analysts and futurists – is that 85 million jobs will be eliminated by A, and 97 million new ones will be created. This leaves us with a few burning questions. To begin with, which jobs are going to be eliminated, if any? AI tools are already being used to assist with management tasks such as customer service, HR, and accounting. Let’s explore some of the recent research being conducted in this field and take a look at the skills that may be required of workforce managers in the age of AI.

Will AI Take Over Management?

As AI has grown more advanced in the areas of machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics, there has been a lot of talk about it potentially taking over roles traditionally held by humans. This is particularly true in the case of management positions, where some people fear that AI will soon be able to do the job better than humans. Thankfully, research indicates that AI is more likely to work alongside us rather than instead of us:

  • In the 2020 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report, 64 percent of respondents viewed AI as a means of assisting current roles and making them more efficient.
  • 66 percent of respondents of the Deloitte report expected more jobs to be generated and pre-existing jobs to be altered.
  • 2021 IDC FutureScape found that only a fifth of companies will gain value from AI management if humans aren’t involved or are replaced.

Markus Schmitt of Germany-based Data Revenue gave CMS Wire the following statement: “Even if 70 percent of the jobs would be taken by AI, it doesn’t necessarily mean that even one manager will lose his job. In this way, AI is no different from any other tool in the workplace, such as email, Excel, or a marketing automation tool. You could argue for each of these tools that they replaced 70 percent of the work for some managers, but it didn’t replace them, it just supported them in getting more done. It became second nature, and no one is questioning it.”

AI may change our jobs and take over certain tasks, but it won’t necessarily be able to eliminate roles altogether. Human interaction is still required for the tasks we fear will be taken over, so there is no need to fear for the livelihoods of our managers just yet.

The Role of AI in Management

Artificial intelligence is becoming more advanced by the second, but not so advanced that it can make human-like correlations between different tasks and departments in the workplace. Instead, AI is mostly used to speed up, automate, and polish processes to save time and money and eliminate errors. You might have used AI already if your company employs accounting software, CMS, scheduling software, or other efficiency-based organizational tools like staff scheduling software.

Gartner has identified four main areas where AI is currently of use in workplace management:

  1. HR administrative functions (admin HR): Core organizational and employee data
  2. HR service management (HRSM): Policies, case management, organizational procedures, and processes
  3. Talent Management: recruitment, onboarding, retention and turnover monitoring, performance data
  4. Workforce management (WFM): Absence management, time capture, time and attendance, tasks/activities, budgeting, forecasting, and scheduling

According to John Brownridge of Deloitte, the work areas “ripe for disruption” are the large-scale data-based tasks that involve plenty of repetition and that run based on a set of rules. Tasks that directly relate to how an organization generates value, however, like using AI-collected data to make decisions about hiring and firing, are best left to the human brain.

Skills Necessary for Managers in the Age of AI

As AI tools begin to disrupt the workplace across the areas mentioned, managers won’t necessarily be losing their jobs in droves, but they will need to acquire new skills in order to fully understand and make use of machine learning in their day-to-day tasks. There are a few specific skills that will help managers to stand out as ideal candidates in the age of AI:

#1: Emotional Intelligence

According to a Capgemini survey, 74 percent of executives believe that emotional intelligence will become an essential skill. The demand for EI is expected to increase by up to six times as AI grows more prevalent. In the age of artificial intelligence, we need to retain those people who can connect with others and who can display empathy, understanding, and humanity in the workplace. Emotional AI is rapidly advancing in terms of being able to decipher human feelings, but it’s a long way from being able to operate as an emotional being in the workplace.

#2: Human-AI Cooperation

Richard Baldwin, the leading globalization expert, wrote a book, The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work, in which he outlined three action steps for success in the age of AI:

  1. Avoid competing with AI: Understand that it is simply better at processing information at scale.
  2. Build skills in human-only areas (emotional intelligence, questioning, strategy, creativity, dexterity, empathy-based social skills).
  3. View your humanity as a competitive edge instead of a handicap or disadvantage.

From these points, we can conclude that the best way to stay relevant is to work alongside artificial intelligence, fill the gaps it creates, and see how its capabilities can complement – not compete against – our own.

#3: STEM Skills

The third skill set that managers should be pursuing is one relating to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). A recent study found a strong link between increased investment in AI and increased demand for STEM skills. Interestingly, firms that transition to AI usually move to a more educated workforce of people who understand the science behind new technologies. These people are considered more adept at being able to work with new technologies.

What Does the Future Hold?

The latest industry research points to a need for managers to reframe the way they view AI disruption. Instead of being threatened, understand that you can gain the skills required to work alongside this technology. You can fill the gaps artificial intelligence cannot fill and use it to your advantage in the workplace.

Rob Press, Deputy

Guest Writer
Guest Writer
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All.
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All.