The first two decades of the 21st century have been characterized by rapid technological advancements and import and export of intangible services amounting to billions of dollars. Innovations like cloud, IoT, and DevOps indeed transformed the world into a global village. A credit card is swiped in some continent and the amount is added to the beneficiary account within seconds in some other continent. The way we work has progressively changed with the invention of agile and lean technologies and methodologies.
That said, we are also surprisingly closer to the century gone by than we think we are. The COVID-19 pandemic that’s currently ravaging the world draws close comparison with the Y2K bug that gave sleepless nights to software engineers worldwide. Like this biological calamity is crippling every industry, the Y2K coding anomaly also threatened to make every computing system go berserk. However, the ‘half-full glass’ perspective on the pandemic shows how the latest technological innovations have been put to test and have mostly delivered beyond expectation in this unprecedented situation, much like the Y2K problem necessitated coding rectifications and improvements.
Digital transformation, digital-first business strategy, and such terms have been circulating on the internet for about a decade now. However, the way these terms have been realized in the last few months was not seen in the past several years. Organizations today have moved from being activity-focused to impact-focused. The IT industry, which employs more than 3 million people in India, has, of course, been leading the transition but others are pumping on all cylinders too for business continuity.
Amid this, the ‘human vs machine’ debate was inevitable. Had machines replaced humans by now, the business disruption would have been nominal to none. If there can be such times in the future when humans will be compelled to stay confined, then why not make machines work in place of humans? As logical as these arguments may seem, they cannot be farther from reality. Most importantly, this notion does not factor in human creativity and the role of emotion in every field of work. Besides, AI is not like an OS that can be purchased and installed on a computer; it has to be coded separately for every environment, which is a complex task, to say the least. In fact, AI is developed to complement or supplement human capabilities as applicable. So, the very idea that AI-enabled machines can overtake humans someday is self-contradictory. That is why we should rather consider AI as Augmented Intelligence (since it is artificial intelligence that augments human intelligence).
Transformational Change Management and AI
Since its inception, AI has evolved from being a niche academic subject to a technology driving social and economic transformation. AI and machine learning (ML) continue to propel innovations that augment human performance across industries – engineering, medicine, transportation, entertainment, and design. Our era is often referred to as the “information age” or “knowledge economy” but a more accurate term would be the ‘creative age’ – since creativity is the undercurrent of our time. While AI, ML, and IoT seek to automate routine tasks, they increase the workload that requires social collaboration and problem-solving skills of humans. In this age, intrinsic passion individuals have become pivotal to skilled professions. As a result, our economic needs are getting increasingly dependent on entrepreneurial creativity.
The Road Ahead
Implementing Augmented Intelligence can gather both structured and unstructured data from various sources and presents it in a way that provides a 360-degree view of the industry and the market. The insights derived from that data are deeper and more actionable than ever before. This enables workers to have an informed view of the future including the opportunities and threats that lie ahead. The combination of information and human touch is what makes Augmented Intelligence the need of the age.
Augmented Intelligence is relevant to every industry. For instance, it can assist financial services providers to offer personalized schemes based on each customer’s goal, capacity, and risk appetite. Similarly, in healthcare, it can enhance patient care, reduce the scope of medical errors, and expedite time-consuming procedures like billing and claims. Retailers can leverage Augmented Intelligence to increase visitor engagement and conversion by allowing online visitors to shop as they like, based on the machine cognition of their behavior. Augmented Intelligence can also aid and accelerate the generative design process in manufacturing, allowing human workers to input the parameters and let the machine find the various ways of designing the object. While the machine explores the design options, the human role is to apply the creative expertise to choose the best option, thus complementing one another and delivering value.
Now is the time to move from trying to convince ourselves for the change to being motivated for the change. Changing reinforcements is the key to realizing the change. If we want to motivate a group of people to do a certain task in a different (better) way, we have to alter the reinforcement and induce behavioral change to impel the transition. In the past, it was enough to just tell people what they needed to do, and they would do it. Today, if an organization wants to retain its top talents while steering them to a different work style, it needs to apply the appropriate reinforcements to achieve the needed behavioral change. Augmented Intelligence is the reinforcement your organization needs, and HCL can help you deploy it with success.