Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast penetrating almost every aspect of business. Customer service, sales support, process automation and workforce management are just a few of the many corporate activities that are being transformed by AI. And the impact of intelligent machines and systems has only just begun.

Advances in AI technologies such as facial, speech and gesture recognition systems, as well as language processing, robotics and machine learning, will radically change how organizations function. They’ll be smarter and leaner, and will adapt to change much quicker. Around 70 percent of corporate executives we recently canvassed say they have significantly increased their investment in AI technologies in the past two years.

To succeed in organizations where AI is embedded in nearly every facet of the enterprise, managers are going to require a host of critical new skills. Managers at every level of the organization, from team leaders to C-suite executives, will need to quickly acquire these abilities. If they don’t, they’re likely to flounder.

To identify the most important skills managers will require, we surveyed 1,770 managers from 14 countries and interviewed 37 executives responsible for digital transformation. Our findings were a real eye-opener. They enabled us to identify five crucial practices that managers must master. They are:

Leave administration to AI: Managers currently spend more than half their time on administration. Tasks such as scheduling, resource allocation and reporting will be best left to AI systems that can perform them faster, better and at a lower cost.

Focus on judgment work: Many important decisions require insight that AI systems can’t provide. Managers should apply their knowledge of the organization and its culture, together with empathy and ethical reflection, to address critical business decisions and practices that require such judgment work. Judgment-orientated skills such as creative thinking, data analysis and strategy development will become increasingly important.

Treat intelligent machines as colleagues: Managers who don’t resist the advance of AI but accept intelligent machines as “colleagues” that can help them perform better are likely to thrive. Around 78 percent of the managers we surveyed said they’d trust the advice of intelligent systems when making business decisions. Advanced AI systems will not only help managers make quicker and better decisions. They’ll also offer them more intuitive, conversational interfaces that will make it easier for managers to ask for advice.

Work like a designer: Creativity is going to be an important attribute for managers in AI-augmented organizations. More important, however, will be their ability to harness the creativity of others. Managers will need to draw together diverse ideas and perspectives from a wide variety of workers to create integrated, effective business solutions.

Develop social skills and networks: While AI systems will excel at administrative and analytical tasks, successful managers will be highly accomplished at the social skills required for effective networking, coaching and collaboration.

AI is certainly going to change how organizations function. Intelligent systems will be cheaper, more efficient and probably less biased in their decisions than employees. However, their biggest strength is not going to be replacing workers but rather supporting them. Managers need to recognize this shift. They should lessen their focus on administrative skills and enhance their ability to perform tasks that only humans can do well.

For further information about the impact of AI on the workforce, take a look at these links. I think you’ll find them helpful.

How Artificial Intelligence Will Redefine Management.

The promise of artificial intelligence: Redefining management in the workforce of the future.

Technology Vision 2016: People first.

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