In today’s show:
- The World Economic Forum releases its look at jobs in an artificial intelligence world,
- The Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence releases its first report on the state of readiness of the Western world’s business communicators, and
- Microsoft to continue its strong financial performance because of AI
Jobs in the next four years
The World Economic Forum has just released its global look at the future of jobs and it makes for interesting reading.
“Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. However, 38% of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise. In addition, businesses are set to expand their use of contractors doing task-specialized work, with many respondents highlighting their intention to engage workers in a more flexible manner, utilizing remote staffing beyond physical offices and decentralization of operations.” – WEF, p. viii
“One set of estimates indicates that 75 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms.” WEF, p. viii
The coming changes, already underway, will have to see governments joining with private enterprise to train today’s workers to meet tomorrow’s needs. And let us not forget, ‘tomorrow’ really means ‘tomorrow’; the report only looks ahead four years.
But then again, Professor of Computing at Oxford University, Shimon Whiteson, says that trying to predict AI is probably a fool’s errand, and that we are unqualified to make prognostications.
Says Shimon, “I’m in the even smaller minority with the view that AI experts have absolutely no ability to prognosticate. Maybe we need new algorithms or maybe just to understand our algorithms better or maybe deep learning can solve everything and we just need more compute. WE HAVE NO IDEA.”
CSCE releases report on Business Communicator readiness for AI
The Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence has just released its report on the readiness of business communicators to meet the communication needs of their employers in an AI world.
The number of communicators thinking that AI is not going to affect them is worrying. Only 35% of communicators surveyed said they were communicating about AI. It seems that business communicators, the voice and conscience of organisations, are too busy in the here-and-now of their role to take on further work around artificial intelligence.
Discussions we’ve had with communicators point to a ‘once it hits me I’ll deal with it then’ attitude. This was precisely the attitude many of our peers had in 2005/6 with the advent of social media. Our peers were wrong to dismiss social media then as irrelevant, and they are similarly wrong to wait for artificial intelligence to land on their desks. By then, it will be too late. Employees need communicating with now, not at some time off in the future.
Even a cursory glance at chapter 2 of Frank, Roehrig and Pring’s book, ‘What to do when machines do everything’ will confirm that we are in the lull before the latest industrial revolution’s storm. Futurists always point to the big things when it comes to industrial revolutions, yet it is the smaller players that make the most change.
We have seen social media go from an eccentric techfest in 2004, written off by businesses large and small as ‘not for me’, to be a major mover and shaker in the world of commerce and information. So too will it be with AI: the small and medium-sized businesses, and their enterprise big brothers and sisters, will be radically transformed by third-party vendors at this moment probably not yet formed.
Better that we all do all we can to find out more about this coming onslaught, and get on the right side of history.
Microsoft to continue its strong financial performance because of AI
Microsoft has just announced a further deal with energy company Shell, to supply Shell with increased communication tools such as Yammer and Office 365, as well as increased access to artificial intelligence tools.
Microsoft has been investing in promising artificial intelligence companies, snapping up Lobe, Bonsai, Semantic Machines, Maluuba, SwiftKet, to mention a few. It will rely on Azure technology, giving Shell access to Bing AI search software and a sophisticated platform of AI tools, services and infrastructure.
Investment analysts Zacks.com report that Microsoft’s better-than-average fiscal performance is due to its strong lead with rolling out AI solutions for its customers.
This is important news for communicators because it shows that Microsoft can be watched with interest when it comes to rolling out AI for the enterprise. And we’re guessing that with a renewed focus on ‘small data’ by some US researchers, Microsoft will be in a good position to eventually leverage its AI skills across its personal computing portfolio.
And that’s it for another episode of the Better Communication Results podcast. Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, in your podcast app of choice, or over at Soundcloud. Or subscribe to our blog by filling in the form below.
Until next time, take care, take some communication risks, because you never know what is going to pay off, and communicate with passion.