Cars are driving themselves, Amazon Go are developing a no store checkout and there is even talk of drones being used for takeaway delivery. As a result of such developments, there is a growing theory that robots and artificial intelligence could lead to many jobs disappearing. A report by Gartner Research predicts that AI is expected to replace low-level, routine work, but it will also play a role in higher-level jobs in the future. It says by 2022, ‘one in five workers engaged in primarily non-routine tasks will rely on AI to get work done.’
The loss of jobs to technological development is nothing new. Many jobs from yesteryear – switchboard operators, bowling alley pinsetters and film projectionists – have already gone. In addition, the global coronavirus pandemic has challenged the way that technology has and should advance. In a survey conducted by Atlantic Council, it was noted that the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate innovation significantly in the future of work, data and AI, trust and supply chains, and health and medicine. The experts also anticipate that the most impactful innovations in the next two to five years would come from developments related to data and AI, as well as to health technologies.
It should be no surprise that technology could quickly progress due to coronavirus changing the future of some work being at home. It turns out that many people can actually work from home productively. So could this mean that jobs with human interaction could be replaced by technology? Bridge toll collectors, cashiers and factory workers are today under threat from changing technology. However, such loss of employment needs to be set against the potential benefits to our lives. British pub chains and restaurants now use an app allowing customers to order food and drink, either in advance or at their table, via their mobile phone, to cut down customer waiting times and, of course, reduce human contact to ensure the safety of their customers due to coronavirus.
Something else that should not come as a surprise, is that people resist technological change. Over 200 years ago workers resisted the mechanisation of the textile industry and the term luddite entered the English language as someone who opposed increased industrialisation or new technology. While people may not like change, there may be underlying factors which need to be taken into account when trying to explain people’s concerns about new technologies, new technologies, with one factor being people’s need for human contact. Research has shown that people feel happier and healthier when they socialise. Psychology Today has noted that being able to relate to and communicate with others is important for our health and well-being.
So what does the need for human contact mean for business?
In the restaurant trade there are some people who like to be welcomed by a server or be able to talk about the menu. And if the food is not to the customers liking, they will want to talk to a server about either replacing their meal or discounting the bill. For such customers, a self-service touchscreen kiosk or app to order their food will not be sufficient to meet their needs. Similarly, when phoning an organisation and faced with a menu of options (Interactive Voice Response system) many customers would rather speak directly with a human, especially when they want to complain. A survey by Forbes has shown that 86% of consumers prefer to interact with a human agent; 71% said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have human customer service representatives available.
In other circumstances, customers like to mix the new technology with traditional experiences. One example of customers opting for such a duel approach can be seen in the retail trade. More than half of UK consumers are now shopping online and UK online spend is forecast to increase 29.6% between 2019 and 2024, according to retail analysts at GlobalData. While this way of shopping has become increasingly popular, and useful for a quick buy and for comparing prices, some customers still like to visit shops before committing to a purchase. Stores offer a more personal experience, for example, being able to ask staff for advice, along with social interaction with family and friends.
Beyond catering and retail, there are other industries where a human touch may remain central to customer care. For example, while technology will increasingly be able to make medical diagnosis, it is unlikely that patients will always want to get their results from a machine. Trained doctors, nurses and other health care staff will remain important in helping patients understand what their condition entails and in certain circumstances accepting (is this meant to be accepting?) bad news. Compassion and comfort can be important human values needed for successful patient/customer experience.
The list of industries where a human presence is likely to remain important includes hair dressers, social workers, sports coaches and many others. That is not to say that technological advancement does not have a role to play in such sectors. In education for example, almost 70% of the UK’s 32,000 primary and secondary schools are using IPads or tablet computers. However, there may be a limit to the extent to which online education replaces teacher lead learning. The BBC has reported that in the US, online charter schools have significantly weaker academic performance” in maths and reading than traditional schools.
So is the future technology or humans?
Industries are always looking for ways to save money, and technology is a means to achieving that goal. It is also true that technological change has freed many workers from repetitive tasks and given consumers quicker and easier access to a range of information and services. In moving forward, it is hard to know where technology will grow and develop over time. But it is evident that many industries will continue to require human contact as a fundamental element of their business’ operation.
In such cases does it really need to be technology vs humans – or should it be technology and humans? What we could see in many workplaces is a blended approach in which collaboration between humans and robots becomes a reality. But if we are to make a success of such a future era of collaboration, our society will need to change. A concerted effort will be required to up-skill the population to enhance their communication and emotional intelligence abilities, so they are equipped to thrive as the twenty first century develops.
MarketMate offers a solution that has the best of both worlds. You can manage your social media content strategy by scheduling and publishing your own content; and create new posts and organise existing ones – you have the freedom to make your own posts.
On the other hand, If you can’t find an article to post, have run out of ideas and need some support, we have got you covered. It is important to gather internal feedback on the content you are providing for your audience to ensure that you are maximising your efforts. With time, the MarketMate’s AI brain develops intelligence tailored to your brand, leveraging audience engagement and building a relevant audience, followed by creating content best suited to your business goals.
You can fine tune and tailor your automated content as much as you need to in MarketMate’s review section. If you hone in on the posts which generate higher engagement, this will tell MarketMate exactly what makes your audience ‘tick’, so it can replicate success metrics with future generated social posts.
So with an increased social media presence, posts scheduled in advance and AI taking the leg work out of finding additional content to share – what will you do with the extra time you have saved?
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