Digitization and artificial intelligence. What is the future of the labour market? Interview with Sylwia Bilska, General Manager Edenred Polska

Artificial intelligence, robotisation, automation will concern every company, not only production ones. How will the new solutions cover the entire market?

We talked about e-commerce and digitization concerning every company 5 years ago. And so it happened and currently  COVID-19 is accelerating the pace of change worldwide.

Why does one put a strong focus on artificial intelligence and automation now ?

Between 1949 and 1980, production efficiency increased along with employee salaries. This was over, and after 1980, mass production and supply chains were moved to China in order to increase profitability and reduce production costs. COVID-19 broke many supply chains, disrupted developed paths and economic order. We are currently experiencing a situation in which an employer is struggling to increase work efficiency, reduce costs and build scalability to generate business growth and profitability. Artificial Intelligence is one of the tools to achieve this goal.

Various elements of Artificial Intelligence will therefore appear everywhere, in every field and sector of the economy. This is also confirmed by the Microsoft study on AI for Europe and Poland. It follows from it that companies and businesses that grow double digit to improve efficiency and scalability – they introduce elements of artificial intelligence now. Firms and businesses that are growing at a single-digit pace they are aware of the importance and inevitability of AI, but postpone the introduction of AI solutions for the next years.

To introduce AI solutions to business en masse, we have to deal with 3 challenges:

  1. How to increase awareness of the need to introduce artificial intelligence in an organization? As a rule – the greater the awareness of AI at the highest levels of a company, the greater the likelihood of faster and efficient implementation. However, the company will not introduce AI solutions without support from employees, not only higher-level ones, but especially mid-level and rank and file employees.
  2. How to help employees, whose professions will disappear, adapt and change their career paths; how to help such employees find themselves in the new reality? According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report “The future of the jobs 2018”, machines and algorithms in the workplace will create 133 million new jobs, while eliminating 58 million in a few years. The changes are expected to translate into a significant turnaround in terms of quality, location and form of work.
  3. How to introduce this new process of change  to the market? change management process will be one of the key processes in companies and will determine a rapid and effective introduction of AI solutions supporting scalability and work efficiency.
Will there be work for everyone in a few years?

Over the next few years, 75 million jobs will disappear from the labour market, but 133 million different types of jobs will be added. The entire global labour market will have to face a new challenge, i.e. upskilling or reskilling employees.

However, the problem of disappearance of work will not only concern the so-called blue workers. So it will not only concern rank and file employees, but also many middle-class professions – lawyers, auditors, bankers, insurance brokers, accountants, general practitioners and even surgeons.

Another challenge for the work environment will be developing new leadership models in the new reality of the labour market, for all types of companies, not only production ones.

Which professions will remain? What are we better at than robotization or AI?

It is difficult to determine exactly what new professions will arise. What seems to be the most important is defining key competences and skills that give us an advantage over machines and robots and give us a better opportunity to secure a place in the new job market reality. These are: creativity, empathy and relationality. Artificial solutions have not acquired these skills yet, because it is contact with other people that increases creativity and inspires. It is interpersonal relations that convince and to a large extent determine the direction of a decision made, even unconsciously. Therefore, the “experience” of remote work in the COVID-19 era is becoming quite interesting.

We do not know and for some time we will not know how it will affect work efficiency and employee mental health. COVID-19 has broken many supply chains, and now it can break many human chains as well. It can also be a huge threat to the development of key competences in the future labour market. We’ll find out soon.

Last Updated on January 27, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska