Should retailers ramp up investments in AI for employees?
Deciding when to take steps into tech investments is always a matter of timing, but a study from Accenture finds companies across industries are significantly shortchanging their workforces when it comes to empowerment through artificial intelligence (AI).
As part of the report, “Reworking the Revolution: Are you ready to compete as intelligent technology meets human ingenuity to create the future workforce?,” a survey of 1,200 executives found only three percent indicating their organization plans to significantly increase its investment in AI skills in the next three years.
The modest investment came despite exec optimism about workforce benefits for AI:
- Seventy-one percent agreed that intelligent technology will be critical to their organization’s market differentiation;
- Sixty-one percent think the share of roles requiring collaboration with AI will rise in the next three years.
- Forty-two percent believe intelligent technologies will be behind every new innovation they implement in the next three years.
In retail, Accenture estimates that if stores invest in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top performing companies, revenues would climb 41 percent by 2022 and employment levels by 10 percent.
A barrier is perhaps evident in the finding that only 26 percent of execs feel their workforce is ready for AI adoption. Yet a survey of 14,000 workers as part of the report found 69 percent agreeing that it is important to develop skills to work with intelligent machines and 62 percent believe AI will have a positive impact on their work.
Companies may encounter bigger hurdles as AI transforms functional jobs into specialized, insight-driven, multiskilled roles. Among the suggestions offered by Accenture to rethink the workplace:
- Reimagine work: Companies should “assess tasks, not jobs; then allocate tasks to machines and people, balancing the need to automate work and to elevate people’s capabilities.”
- Pivot the workforce: Think beyond creating efficiencies and productivity gains though AI to how growth can be supported by “creating entirely new markets, products, services and customer experiences.”
- Scale up “new skilling”: Measure the workforce’s level of skills and willingness to learn to work with AI to personalize training and employ digital learning that maximizes training investments at speed and scale.
- CEOs Must Pivot Their Workforces to Seize AI-Driven Growth and Help Them Work with Intelligent Technologies, Accenture Report Finds – Accenture
- Reworking the Revolution: Are you ready to compete as intelligent technology meets human ingenuity to create the future workforce? – Accenture
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should retailers be aggressive or patient at this point in investing in enabling retail workers with AI? What’s causing the apparent slow pace of investment? What’s your overall advice to retailers around applying AI to their workforce and work processes?