“The biggest challenge business leaders will face is in combining human and automated roles and responsibilities effectively, and giving human employees opportunities to use their own natural strengths.” Leslie Willcocks, co-author or Service Automation: Robots and the Future of Work.

It’s hard to miss the words, “Artificial Intelligence” or “AI” in the headlines lately. Tesla and Google are promising a safer, driverless future with their rapid developments of driverless cars. With Chatbots on Facebook, now you can shop for a last minute button-up for this weekend’s wedding. And here at Conversica, our virtual sales assistant, Rachel, is hard at work, gauging interests from the long list of leads from Dreamforce.  

According to a data analysis company Quid, in 2015, a record-breaking $8.5 billion was infused into companies specialising in AI technology – a fourfold increase since 2010.

Artificial Intelligence is becoming more integrated in all aspects of our lives, and for some, it begs the question of: Is the current workforce going to be replaced by AI? The Economist’s recent article,“The Intelligent Workforce” sought to answer this very question. (We’re honored that they featured us!)

The article recalls that in 2013, a well-cited Oxford University study predict that 47% of US jobs could be automated by machines, completely replacing humans, within the next one or two decades. That’s a big number. But more recently, in June 2016, a report from the OECD, a think tank of industrialised countries, provided a new number – only 9% of jobs will be automated. Their reason:

“In contrast to other studies, we take into account the heterogeneity of workers’ tasks within occupations,” say the authors of the OECD report. AI can take on monotonous tasks of many occupations, but it doesn’t mean that it will completely replace the role of the human.

Leslie Willcocks, co-author of Service Automation: Robots and the Future of Work, points out that, “Humans and robots are most effective when working together…by employing robotic process automation to tackle the data processing tasks that provide little job satisfaction or development, employers can utilise the skills of their human employees to focus on innovation and creation, meaningful customer contact, building investor relations, running teams and managing departments—in short, all of the more stimulating, human-intensive roles that robots cannot undertake.”

All of this ties back to the role of Rachel, Conversica’s AI virtual assistant, and her contributions that adds to, not replaces, a sales professional’s work. Alex Terry, our CEO, explains in the article, “What these companies have in common is the awareness that they are not making the most of the sales leads they have, and a willingness to use AI technology to solve the problem. Our virtual sales assistants are enabling sales team to focus on what they do best—selling. Qualifying leads is time-consuming work and frankly not that interesting. AI software for marketing and sales can do it better, faster and more cost-effectively than humans ever could.”

Read the original The Economist article here: http://intothefuture.eiu.com/the-intelligent-workforce/