Let’s face it, artificial intelligence is coming at us like a tsunami!

If you don’t quite know what AI is, just think of it like this: it’s robotics but at a ‘human’ level. It’s a robot that will be able to make, say, 100,000 decisions and it won’t necessarily be a physical steel-shaped apparition. It could simply be a software package that analyses data and takes basic decisions based on a huge number of pre-programmed alternatives. Why it is different to the robotics that we’ve seen over the last 30 years it that it will be able to ‘think’!

By carrying on the way that we are as vanilla CA’s we are heading for extinction. In the not-too-distant future most of our functions are going to be done by AI at a substantially reduced cost.

And by the way, a number of other professions are facing the same challenge. Lawyers, doctors, engineers and a plethora of other disciplines are, in their current format, under attack.

The thing is that it is approaching us at an alarming rate – we don’t have to wait another generation so we can comfortably sit out our career until retirement.

Jobs are going to be lost, professions are going to become obsolete and we are under threat – that is if we don’t adapt.

But, do not worry. It’s not all doom and gloom.

Sure, the low-value, repetitive work is definitely under threat but there are challenges (and opportunities) that will always need a human brain to act on.

We, especially, are a central force on this process. Because of our broader understanding of business process and systems, we are about the best type of professional to stick in amongst this miasma of technological development, not as developers or even users, but as ‘appliers’.

It’s almost like tackling a SAP system – you know it can do anything. But what its best value application in a specific business environment has to come from understanding the business and what could add value of it could be done. The SAP boys/girls can then be given the spec and come up with the practical outcome. But it is about knowing the value proposition that creates the value, not the machine that executes or the software guys who design that is the overriding factor.

Here is a good example. Stocktaking. How would it be if you could take stock, worldwide, instantaneously? Maybe passing a vibration through a warehouse or a flash of light could immediately identify each item and map its location. No need for complicated systems and people and shut-downs and cut-off issues. This probably more like the Internet-Of-Things (IoT) but the example holds good.

Ok, the future is likely to be a blend of people and technology working together to help industry ride gallantly into the future. The thing is we, as CA’s, have a vital role to play albeit far more creative and intelligent. Our mental construct will give us the best ability to describe responsibility and tasks to both humans and AI.

There is a great way of understanding strategy and its application: strategy is about doing the right things not doing things right!

The role of the executive has always been about doing the right things. But the ‘doing things right’ section is where AI will take over, virtually entirely!

Does that mean we are going to need to think like an executive as we come out of the starting blocks? Very definitely. Hence the changing face of our profession.

Of course, it does get more complicated and here is where we are not do good: understanding and meeting people’s short and long-term aspirations at the same time. For human-AI collaboration and creativity, leaders will need to create a culture of trust while managing smaller human teams with different skills, career aspirations and behaviours.

And there are other issues:

  • Cyber-security is a major risk that we need to understand.
  • Ethics and data: the recent happenings at Facebook around data sharing blew up into a major crisis.
  • Fake news is an immense risk and the use of systems and access controls will need to be taken much more seriously. We going to have to consider how information leaves our systems much more carefully. Even an ad-campaign will need special scrutiny to ensure that ethos and ethics are not breached.

A brave new world.

And let us not talk about blockchain and crypto-currencies, 3-D printing or virtual reality.

The thing is, does your CV address these issues?

If not, you need to brush up on your skill-set and in the formal arena like universities and colleges there is not much on offer right now. Mostly what is required is for you to re-educate yourself by reading more and more.