It seems strange to talk about artificial intelligence as something in the future.
AI is already here, influencing everything from the way we shop on Amazon to the way the post office tracks our mail.
In fact, in one way or another AI has been with us for nearly 70 years, ever since Alan Turing said in 1950: “I propose to consider the question; can machines think?”
But even though it has moved from cutting-edge science to a commonplace tool over the past six decades, AI is still being used in a very limited way in the world of work.
Recent research by TCS, exploring the ways in which organisations in Europe are using AI, found that the most popular application was to fix basic business processes.
However, some businesses are moving much faster and more efficiently than others. These enterprises are in the midst of a profound technology-driven transformation to become more agile, intelligent, automated, and on the cloud. This transformed state is called ‘Business 4.0’.
AI will evidently transform work in the future as organisations look beyond simply making existing businesses faster and more efficient, and instead look to completely transform the way they operate.
Despite common fears, transformation of work by AI will not mean the destruction of work.
In every era of rapid technological development, from the industrial revolution to the current fourth industrial revolution, there are always some people who lose their jobs.
But overall, technology usually results in most people getting different and better jobs, rather than ending up with no work at all.
It will be the same this time around as AI starts to truly transform today’s workplaces.
The human brain has 80% more memory capacity than the world’s most powerful computer while using 0.0008% of the energy.
The machines will need us just as much as we need them, and this industrial revolution, just like every other, will be one where robots and humans work hand in hand.
The successful organisations of the future will be those that have not only adopted AI and other technologies, but those that allow themselves to be transformed by these systems.
This will mean changing the ways organisations are structured. The old method of working in managed silos doesn’t make sense when innovations are making processes open, and data is available in real time to everyone.
If you combine an “old” organisation with new technology, all you will have is an expensive old organisation.
Some sectors, such as the finance industry, are already seeing these old established organisations lose market share to new entrants. These new companies are completely rethinking the purpose of financial services, rather than simply automating legacy services.
It used to be that banks were somewhere to keep your money safe, but today no banks hold money – they are simply a ledger of record.
With AI you can do twice the amount for half the price, and new entrants like Monzo and Revolut are embracing that to offer services such as commission-free cash withdrawals and smartphone payments abroad.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and those business leaders refusing to acknowledge they need to fundamentally change the way they operate are starting to resemble captains of the Titanic.
AI is already making a huge difference to the way we live and work today. There’s still work to be done on upskilling, legislation and advancing the technology, but there is no doubt that it will have a huge impact on the world of work and society at large.
Business 4.0 has been redefining how enterprises interact with their customers and represents a fundamental shift from the ‘Age of Productivity’ to the ‘Age of Abundance’.
The ability to utilize digital technologies to customize unique customer experiences, create exponential value, leverage ecosystems, and embrace risk, are the defining attributes of Business 4.0. TCS is a leading force in driving this transformational shift through rapid and continuous innovation emerging from sustained investments in global research and co-innovation with its customers.
I’m looking forward to having some great discussions with business leaders, policy makers and politicians at the 2018 EBS in Brussels. It is very important for us all to create a level playing field and the governance framework needed for the technology to benefit everyone in a just and safe way.
Göran Karlsson is AI Innovation Lead for Tata Consultancy Services Europe. He will be taking part in the roundtable session ‘Artificial Intelligence: How will it change the future of work?’ at the European Business Summit on 24 May 2018 in Brussels.