The discussion surrounding robotisation and the advancement of AI is becoming more and more heated, and the question we often find asking ourselves is weather robots will replace people as employees. How many people will lose their jobs once utilisation of AI becomes more popular?

Yes – we will see great changes in working life, and we will see them soon. However, change also means new jobs. Because of AI and robotisation some of the jobs outsourced to countries with lower labor costs will be returning to the Nordics. New jobs will emerge in the process. In only Finland, we are talking about at least 20 000 jobs.

 

Example: Service Desks will clear out

Let’s use Service Desks as an example and reminiscence the history of these operations. At first the majority of companies begun to focus their end-user support and to seek savings by outsourcing operations to suppliers. More cost savings were sought by outsourcing operations to locations near and far, employing Service Desk employees first in Estonia, Latvia and Poland and ultimately in India.

Finland was a model student when it came to outsourcing services, and Service Desk was no different. As many as 30 000 jobs were outsourced to countries with lower labor costs through the beginning of the 21st century.

When it came to Service Desks, the ideal situation was one where the phone rang as little as possible: every call and conversation with another person was expensive. The aim was to solve all service requests as quickly as possible, following strict service standards. The development of self-service eased the situation: people could receive support regardless of place and time and utilise self-service portals to process software orders, make password changes and process other situations where support would usually be needed.

What is the situation now? Automatisation has come a long way, and people are used to using self-service portals. At the same time AI has taken great leaps forward. Studies about Service Desks reveal that more than 50 per cent of all Service Desk requests can already be solved by combining AI and self-service, and soon the percentage will be 80. The majority of human work force will thus not be needed. 

 

Competence Center of Intelligent Support

What about those service requests which cannot be solved by the combination of AI and automatisation of service? What will be done with those? When facing a tricky situation in business, is it still smart to route the question to India?

I claim that cheap outsourced labor will not be needed for these questions. It is smart to keep these questions close and put time in solving them. This is because solving these problems will bring additional value to business and develop services further. We will be needing experts that do not only solve service requests, but actively coach employees in utilising technology in business. Supporting functions – the area manned by people – will become the competence center for intelligent support, specialised in interaction with business operations.

Thus, Service Desks will return from India, but not as we knew them. We will be needing completely new types of professionalism and qualities. A field of competence must rise to plan, build, execute and lead new types of service entities. There have been many similar examples.

Now we will need people who can capitalise on robotics and AI and even create completely new business operations. This completely new trade will grow substantially.

 

Three thoughts to chew on

Change is right around the corner. Before it’s here I suggest thinking about the following:

  1. All companies are technology companies, and soon technology will give companies the possibility to remarkably rise in productivity. This, however, calls for the ability to utilise technology and make the most out of it. What kind of technological competency does your company have?
  2. New work tasks are only just emerging, but will certainly require a new type of competence. How can this be gained? How to create an entity which combines the best technology can give – automatisation and AI – with the best a human can give?
  3. Companies must adapt to the demands of the new generation if they wish to attract top talent. The meaningfulness of work will be at the focus of work in the future, and new ways of working will change work communities. The importance of the contents of work keeps growing, and new ways of working are changing work communities. How to best respond to these changes?

 

 

About the author:

Sami Karkkila is the CEO of Sofigate.

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