At tel­cos of the fu­ture, why not work with a bot?

How CIOs can shape a fu­ture of work in which most work­forces in­clude ma­chines.

Comms MEA - - Operations Comment - By He­len Poitevin

Tech­nol­ogy sur­rounds us and shapes us in many ways – in our re­la­tion­ships, busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties, and in how we com­mu­ni­cate, col­lab­o­rate and work. Its im­pact is only in­ten­si­fied by the emer­gence of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) and smart ma­chines.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions can no longer treat tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment and peo­ple in­vest­ment as two sep­a­rate ac­tiv­i­ties. CIOs must align tech­nol­ogy with busi­ness con­text to sup­port ma­jor changes in work and jobs, in or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­tures and in cul­ture.

One ex­am­ple is the in­tro­duc­tion of AI in the en­ter­prise and its im­pact on the work­place. Start­ing in 2020, Gart­ner pre­dicts that AI will cre­ate 2.3 mil­lion jobs and elim­i­nate only 1.8 mil­lion. CIOs should take the lead in telling this story and mak­ing it a re­al­ity.

The in­ter­play of peo­ple and AI is where CIOs can cre­ate most value. We are con­fi­dent that learn­ing ma­chines, bots and ro­bots will be­come in­creas­ingly per­va­sive in work, home and com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­ments.

Four fu­ture of work sce­nar­ios:

To help CIOs shape their fu­ture work­places, Gart­ner ex­plored the need for peo­ple and tech­nol­ogy to come to­gether to build to­mor­row’s busi­nesses, plat­forms and ecosys­tems. They took into ac­count the ex­tent to which ma­chines are ca­pa­ble, and the ex­tent to which hu­mans are ac­cept­ing of them. They also con­sid­ered dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of key, strong and un­cer­tain

Ma­chines and hu­mans work­ing along­side one an­other are the way for­ward for not only tel­cos, but ev­ery busi­ness and in­dus­try,

ex­plains He­len Poitevin

forces on the roles of ma­chines in the work­place.

Those forces take into con­sid­er­a­tion the abil­ity of ma­chines to per­form sim­ple and lim­ited tasks that ri­val or ex­ceed the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of hu­mans, as well as hu­mans’ ac­cep­tance of ma­chines and their use in a wide range of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.

Here are some rec­om­men­da­tions for CIOs and other IT lead­ers to man­age the ma­chine-hu­man work­forces for them.

Sce­nario No. 1

Mini­bot pro­lif­er­a­tion – Ma­chine ca­pa­bil­i­ties are lim­ited, but hu­mans are com­fort­able with the pres­ence of large num­bers of sim­ple, fo­cused ma­chines.

Rec­om­men­da­tions: Build sticky re­la­tion­ships with highly skilled tal­ent. In­vest heav­ily in bot sup­port, skills up­grades and other el­e­ments of the em­ployee value propo­si­tion.

Sce­nario No. 2

I’d rather have a bot for it - AI drives both soft­ware- and hard­ware-cen­tric bots that sur­round peo­ple in their day-to-day lives, mak­ing ma­chines widely ac­cepted through­out so­ci­ety.

Rec­om­men­da­tions: Man­age ro­bots and vir­tual as­sis­tant re­sources to max­imise pro­duc­tiv­ity, with con­tin­ual re­assess­ment and re­pro­vi­sion­ing of these as­sets. Op­ti­mise cy­ber­se­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­i­ties to fend off threats and pro­duce com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

Sce­nario No. 3

Bots go bad - Highly ca­pa­ble ma­chines are present, but re­jected by hu­mans. Hu­mans are ef­fec­tively in an on­go­ing con­flict with ma­chines, which op­er­ate out­side the bound­aries of so­ci­ety and the law. This is the dark­est sce­nario.

Rec­om­men­da­tions: In­vest heav­ily in risk man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing cy­ber­se­cu­rity, to in­crease re­silience amid un­cer­tainty. Build trusted net­works of em­ploy­ees and work­ers who are aligned to a com­mon higher-level pur­pose.

Sce­nario No. 4

Bots can’t drive - Ma­chines are not al­ways reli­able, some­times un­safe and can’t be trusted to make im­por­tant de­ci­sions. Hu­mans largely re­ject the pres­ence of ma­chines in their lives and of­fices.

Rec­om­men­da­tions: Cre­ate a strong gov­er­nance pol­icy for the use of ma­chines. De­velop “bot mas­ter” cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams. Up­date ethics and value state­ments that can be used as a tool for com­mu­ni­cat­ing ma­chine guide­lines. Pur­chase robot in­sur­ance to pro­tect against dam­ag­ing fail­ures.


C-level ex­ec­u­tives should con­sider par­tic­u­lar sce­nar­ios not in terms of whether the sce­nario is “good” or “bad,” but in terms of who wins and who loses, and what is won or lost.

It is crit­i­cal that CIOs dis­cuss with the boards of di­rec­tors which el­e­ments in each sce­nario are de­sir­able and un­de­sir­able, and make sure the de­sir­able el­e­ments hap­pen and the un­de­sir­able don’t. This, will lead to a fifth sce­nario – a re­al­ity we cre­ate.

The in­ter­play of peo­ple and AI is where CIOs can cre­ate most value.”

About the au­thorHe­len Poitevin, re­search di­rec­tor at Gart­ner

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