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How AI will impact the future of work according to SaaStrAnnual

Posted by  Elise Toulman

Described as the largest community of SaaS founders and entrepreneurs, SaaStr is considered by many to be a thought leader in building a successful SaaS business. At their yearly event, SaaStrAnnual in San Francisco, SaaS founders, investors and executives come together to talk sales, marketing, and content in the SaaS space. This is a three-day event packed with experts, insight, and opportunities to share and learn, and this year the buzz around preparing for AI’s adoption in business echoed through many of the sessions.

On the whole, businesses are at varying stages in embracing artificial intelligence and self-driving technology. As we’ve discussed previously, AI adoption sits firmly within the sights of the more ambitious, forward-thinking organisations, no matter their industry. It’s from these organisations that many predict the biggest shifts in working methods will stem, presenting examples of a new reality that everyone should be thinking about in 2018.

In their session “How Artificial Intelligence Will Impact the Future of Work”, Maran Nelson (Co-Founder & CEO of Clara Labs), Amanda Kahlow (CSO & Founder of 6sense), and Lan Xuezhao (Founding Partner of Basis Set Ventures) made some interesting points about artificial intelligence and the necessary evolution of employees in their approach to work (via beautiful.ai).

“AI is an enabler”

Artificial Intelligence is a tool for smarter data analytics and reduces the effort and resources necessary to make informed business decisions. AI and machine learning can sort, categorise, and classify business information, but it lacks the creativity to act on that information in a novel way. AI and automation can take on repetitive tasks, and respond to user demands in real time more quickly than a human, but it requires creativity to apply values and provide a voice.

“It will increase flexibility”

The introduction of AI, machine learning, and automation in the workplace means employees are performing fewer repetitive, routine jobs. There is greater scope  for creativity, interaction, and collaboration, which makes for more flexible, fulfilling work. With the infrastructure to analyse mountains of information, the human element in making connections within that information can happen faster, and in more novel ways. Employees and automation can work together to completely reimagine what a job role is and what is required of the person employed in that role.

“People can focus on decisions and the emotional tasks”

Generally speaking, people who excel in their specialist roles are able to move through their repetitive, rehearsed tasks quickly. They have good knowledge and experience of their role, and they are able to share or impart this knowledge to problem solve. If machine learning can take on the repetitive tasks and apply its “knowledge”, the employee’s time is solely focussed on that third step, making human creativity and emotion the real skillset.

Why Unit4 believes in using technology for a competitive edge

Organisations applying next generation technologies are gaining an advantage over their competitors, and AI is one of those technologies. It’s understandable that some businesses approach AI with trepidation, and that employees are reluctant to embrace its potential. For many, it is unchartered territory, and for many more, it spells a complete overhaul of business process, even business models. Artificial Intelligence’s problem solving abilities are what make it valuable, not its potential to replace a human workforce. AI, machine learning, and automation set businesses free from monotonous admin, allowing focus to shift toward high value activities.

Elise Toulman