Modern business technologies are increasingly capable of automating processes that once relied on human intermediation. The processes most-ripe for automation are those which involve highly standardized tasks — things like routine physical tasks (e.g., attaching a car door on an auto assembly line), simple transactional tasks (e.g., an online retail system which auto-generates email receipts) and even some cognitive tasks (e.g., limited-scope interactions).

Just as any simple pocket calculator can handle routine, standardized math problems far more accurately and consistently than even the best mathematician, an advanced Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) like Amelia can execute routine, standardized user engagements far more efficiently than any human agent. Amelia as a digital colleague can even learn new tasks by observing her human colleagues and providing suggestions for new workflows. Once a human engineer or SME (subject matter expert) “green lights” an automation, Amelia can begin executing the task in real-world scenarios with machine efficiency.

Humans Freed for More Fulfilling Work

This doesn’t mean that human workers are not necessary — quite the opposite, in fact. Humans and digital colleagues are increasingly working together to form hybrid workforces, in which digital colleagues handle high-volume repeatable tasks, while human workers are freed from drudgery to apply their uniquely human qualities in their work. The evolution (or even improvement) of human roles because of technological change is actually nothing new. Throughout the industrial revolution, companies devised ways to introduce automation into their processes. However, despite all that disruption, humans have continued to remain very necessary. Indeed, many of today’s most advanced economies, (i.e., the very automated ones) are boasting historically low unemployment rates. Furthermore, many of the newly created roles for humans involve highly specialized skillsets which are arguably far more fulfilling to execute than the routine ones they replaced.

Today, most human jobs still involve very routine tasks. According to McKinsey “in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated.” That concept may, at first, sound frightening, but it should be seen as a source of hope and optimism. Nobody likes doing the same task over and over again — the human brain wasn’t designed for that. In a hybrid workforce, workers will have the opportunity to take on newer, more complex roles, forgoing the rote and repeatable, for more fulfilling tasks that can’t be automated away — things like creative problem solving, empathy, negotiation and people skills.

The Hybrid Workforce in Action

This isn’t a far-off topic, but a concept we’ve already seen in action. For example, SEB hired Amelia to handle the front-end of its internal IT desk supporting 15,000 employees, which they can access via her comprehensive conversational UI. Not only does Amelia (or “Aida” as she is known internally) answer employees’ questions, but she can resolve issues on their behalf. This means that Aida can handle a wide variety of high-volume, routine IT service processes that once required human intermediation (answering FAQs, password resets, booking meetings, etc.) When no longer bogged down with this repetitive work, the experienced human IT agents finally have time to address more unique employee IT needs.

A hybrid workforce helps customers with better access to services, delivers increased productivity for companies, and unleashes the potential of human workers who no longer are forced to do the same things over and over again.

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