Saturday 24 March 2018

How is Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) shaping the future of work today?

Eleanor Collier

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are shaping a new reality for Irish businesses in 2017.

These new digital technologies are spurring monumental change in valuegeneration and creating exciting new chances for efficiencies and revenue growth across all sectors of industry.

While the only way is forward, these increasingly sophisticated digital innovations have led to major challenges for employers, who now need to work more strategically to leverage the upsides of these new fast-changing technologies.

How can Irish businesses empower employees to analyze new types of data, make new types of decisions and upskill to master both business and technology related issues and embrace this completely new landscape?

So how is Big Data and Artificial Intelligence shaping the future of work today?

The Work Ahead’ research series, commissioned by Cognizant, with Roubini Global Economics, is part of a global study that looks in to the changing nature of work and what constitutes success in the digital age. 

From healthcare to banking and financial services and from insurance to manufacturing and retail, here are the key developments and predictions from 5 sectors:

1.  Insurance – “Digital disruption is real”

A major survey of Irish Insurance CEOs found that industry leaders  are focused on growth and innovation for 2017 amidst changing market conditions, economic challenges and international competition.  79% of Irish insurance leaders said there are more opportunities for growth in their organisations now than there were three years ago, in the first Insurance Ireland-PwC Pulse Survey (October 2016).

In the insurance sector “the central role of data and analytics is shaping business models and commercial opportunities”, according to the Future of Work report. 

“Without a data-centric approach at the core of what an insurance company does and how it does it, competitive irrelevancy looms”, it warns.  “The harvesting, interpretation and monetization of the data generated by every digital interaction (what we call a “Code HaloTM”) is the foundational building block of being an insurer in the 21st century.”

What’s found to be more surprising, according to “The Work Ahead’ is the pace that AI has come to be seen as an important technology for leveraging big data.  It’s predicted that between 2017 and 2020, a new generation of leaders will separate from the pack by injecting AI and its sub-components (e.g., machine learning, neural networks, decision theory, etc.) into the algorithms that produce actuarial models and premium quotes.


2.  Banking and Financial - “Data is an intangible Asset”

In the Banking and Financial Sector, AI-led automation will accelerate the pace of middle and back-office modernization, predicts the Future of Work report. 

“Data is among the intangible assets constituting as much as 84% of the market value of companies listed on the S&P 500 index.  Banks and financial institutions, however, are often better at setting up channels to deliver services than using the data they acquire through those channels.”

Big data is an enabler for AI because it provides the necessary capacity for learning algorithms to consume data and use it to make strategic decisions (for example to open a branch office or approve a loan).

“Recognize that digital disruptors are your best friends. An approach like this makes a lot of sense, especially in fast-rising technological areas such as AI, blockchain and Internet of Things, among others”

3.  Manufacturing – “Boosting the need for innovation skills”

Today the manufacturing industry in Ireland employs 205,700 people directly and 400,000 people across all skills levels when indirect employment is taken into account. 

“It is an integral part of Ireland’s economic fabric and a key driver of innovation” according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton in the “Making it in Ireland: Manufacturing 2020” Report.

According to ‘The Future of Work’, Analytics and AI are now transforming global ‘making’ processes and boosting the need for innovation skills in employees.  “Getting ahead of these systems of intelligence is essential and will likely trigger a surge in analytics skills needed by 2020”.

“By 2025, sensors and IoT stand as the pre-eminent digital technologies affecting the manufacturing sector. By then, we’ll likely see the instrumentation of every product, and more smart products means more data.

Add to that a variety of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems, from 3-D printing to sensors and robots converging to become an integral part of enterprise business architecture.”

The key is merging the skill sets of employees along with new technologies:  “New automated systems, in concert with manned systems, create new outcomes by better integrating all participants – suppliers, partners, materials scientists, machinists and heads of safety – through digital approaches.”


4.  Healthcare – “Work will become more strategic”

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will be key drivers in the transformation of healthcare work – but how will these changes be operationalized?

“As tasks are automated, work will become more strategic.”  By 2020, AI and analytics top the new investment agenda, with an expected significant impact from physical and software robots too.”

When it comes to the top ways in which work will be transformed between now and 2020, healthcare payers and providers alike named automation, bots and artificial intelligence as top influencers driving change. 

5.  Retail – “An age of hyper-digital transformation”

The majority of digital leaders feel business analytics, AI, concerns about security and privacy, bots, digital technology regulations and practices will greatly impact work, as will “the state of being hyper-connected”.

They attribute the need for improved design, language and communication skills to the increasing shift from bricks-and-mortar and face-to-face interactions to digital ones, where the design of digital interfaces becomes critical and the medium of communication moves to online chat, AI-supported chat bots, audio and video.

Between now and 2020, retailers expect accelerated adoption of digital technologies.  “During this age of hyper-digital transformation, nine additional digital technologies join the list of technologies that at least 25% of digital leaders believe will have a large to very large business impact: collaboration technologies, telepresence devices, artificial intelligence, digital currency, sensors/ IoT, software bots (for process automation), sharing economy platforms, hardware robots and telematics.”

Digital disruption is real.  From healthcare to banking and financial services, insurance, manufacturing, logistics and retail, find out more about how digital will affect your industry


Sponsored by: Cognizant

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