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    Will Artificial Intelligence End the War for Talent or Accelerate It?

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    Whether the topic is autonomous self-driving cars, machine learning, or “big data” there is a lot of interest, and even more business investment, in the areas of artificial intelligence and robotics. These technologies have the appealing promise for companies to either replace human workers, or at the very least make workers much more efficient and effective in their jobs. However, these new technologies will be created and maintained by skilled knowledge workers, which begs the question: will artificial intelligence end the war for talent or accelerate it?

    Benefits and Challenges Created by Artificial Intelligence

    New digital technologies such as cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics are being adopted in a number of industries as a pre-emptive and disruptive strategy to either gain efficiencies or a distinct competitive advantage. There is no question this is a huge opportunity: there are many things that human workers do in their jobs that could be done better, and more quickly, by machines.  In support of this conclusion, the McKinsey Global Institute recently reported that almost half of paid work can be automated with current technologies.

    The benefits for companies are many: They can free up valuable and scarce knowledge workers to analyze and interpret data, or develop new technologies. The potential to gain operating efficiencies and thereby lower costs and gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    There are also many challenges: Starting with the fact that most companies are not software or hardware development companies. In order to develop and deploy these leading edge tools, companies will have to either buy, rent, or develop the missing expertise they need. In conjunction with the resolving the expertise challenge, companies must also be able to pay for it. It takes a lot of capital to develop and implement these technologies. These challenges are compounded by long lead times -organizations will need to invest for the future, something many neglect in the midst of day-to-day servicing of customers.

    Our Thesis: Technology Will Drive Job Growth

    There are a number of economic, demographic, psychographic, and firmographic factors at play in today’s job market. At TalentWave we have a front-row seat to the growing independent workforce, and the challenge many organizations have in attracting and retaining the talent they need. Driven by the fact that companies need flexibility and access to talent, while workers want greater variety and freedom, the world of work is changing rapidly. In the midst of this turmoil, many have theorized that technology will eliminate jobs.

    There are many reasons to believe that increasing adoption of these new technologies in the workplace will actually create more jobs, rather than eliminating them. How can this be?

    Unfilled Open Jobs Are Growing in the US

    One supporting data point is the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics’ JOLTS report, which tallies the number of unfilled open jobs in the US. It reveals that the number of unfilled jobs has been steadily rising over the last several years, even as technology has been making business processes and the workplace has become more efficient. At the end of November 2016, there were 5.5 million job openings in the U.S. That number has more than doubled since 2.2 million in July 2009. In the economic recovery after the mortgage crisis (since July 2009) we’ve had 92 months of economic growth, and a record 75 straight months of job creation. The unemployment rate is currently at 4.8 percent, near historic lows.

    How Will Artificial Intelligence Create More Jobs?

    There are three primary dynamics behind the development of artificial intelligence that will not only drive the economy forward, but also create more jobs in the process.

    1. Building Out Our Digital Infrastructure – To enable artificial intelligence we need to build out a new digital infrastructure. This work will both sustain and create many new knowledge worker jobs across a variety of traditional disciplines like engineering, manufacturing, and services across a number of industries.
    1. Artificial Intelligence Will Enhance, Not Replace, Human Performance – Not only are humans required to innovate and build new technology, we are also needed to interpret the data and make decisions. In a great way, technology will help us do more of the fun stuff, and less of the drudgery work. Artificial intelligence has the promise to radically transform many industries such as health care, financial services, transportation, government services, and education. In the process, artificial intelligence will transform many professions and roles. For example, doctors will be freed up to actually practice medicine instead of doing research and paperwork.
    1. Technology is a Driver of Economic Expansion – The buildout of a digital infrastructure and the widespread adoption of these new technologies will propel the economy for years to come, creating new jobs in disciplines and industries that we haven’t even begun to imagine.

    Conclusion

    As hardware gets cheaper and the software that drives it becomes smarter, new technologies will continue to disrupt old businesses, and in the process they will create more jobs than they destroy. In today’s era of talent scarcity, artificial intelligence and other digital technologies in the workplace will be a driver of job growth. These innovations will create new industries, and many new worker roles in the process. The challenge for industry is to figure out the right balance of technology investment while also finding and engaging this new workforce.

     

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