In the age of artificial intelligence (AI), business success will increasingly depend on people and machines collaborating with each other.

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If leaders don’t include upskilling workers as part of their Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment, what has potential to be a win-win could become a lose-lose.

Leaders who are grappling with how to deploy AI in their businesses should read this Accenture study of 1,200 business leaders and 14,000 workers from companies already using it.

One main finding of the study suggests that a large gap exists in the investment that leaders plan to make in AI and the investment they plan to train their employees to work with it. “74% of executives say they plan to use AI to automate tasks but only 3% plan investments in reskilling the workforce.”

And what is the effect of this gap?  According to Accenture, “This low level of commitment will radically curtail their ability to deploy AI at scale.”

No question investment in AI is worth serious consideration. Accenture estimates it’s possible to “increase revenues by 38%…over the next five years for those fully committing to Artificial Intelligence and investing in human-machine collaboration.”

The full promise of AI depends on humans and machines working together to develop differentiated customer experiences and to create entirely new products, services and markets.” For example, Harvard-based pathologists working with AI “accurately identified 99.5 percent of cancerous biopsies.” Without this collaboration and working independently, “pathologists beat the machines with 96% accuracy versus 92%.”

“Until now, robots, big data analytics and other technologies have been used to work in parallel with people but in automated isolation. Their role: improve process efficiencies. Now, as companies invest in AI systems that can sense, communicate, interpret and learn, all that changes. AI can help businesses move beyond automation to elevate human capabilities that unlock new value.”

What the study reveals:

How do the workers fare with AI?

  • 97% of executives note they intend to use AI to enhance worker capabilities…they envision creating new sources of value by enabling their people to collaborate with intelligent machines.

What actions are leaders taking?

  • Business leaders are struggling to match this commitment with action to transform the workforce…only 3% percent say their organization plans to increase investment in training and reskilling programs significantly in the next three years.
  • Employers underestimate the willingness of employees to acquire the relevant skills. On average, they deem only about 26% of their workforce as ready for AI adoption. Nearly one in four cite resistance by the workforce as a key obstacle.

Data suggest workers want to learn:

  • 68% of highly skilled workers, and 48% of their lower skilled peers are positive about AI’s impact on their work.
  • Overall, 67% of workers consider it important to develop their own skills to work with intelligent machines.

This mismatch is up to leadership to fix. Leaders have an obligation to understand their workforce, the impact of new technology and then to equip their employees to collaborate with the technology. This not only benefits the workers, but it also assures a stronger probability of greater ROI for leaders on their AI investments.

Contact us and we can help you better understand how to plan for and utilize the human component of AI.