Training is critical to preparing their workforce to work with AI, but few carriers have clarity around the skills they need to support. Michael Costonis shares three steps that can help.

Contrary to pundits predicting the decimation of employment, a collaborative study between Accenture and the World Economic Forum (WEF), released at the 2018 Davos conference, found that 63 percent of cross-industry business leaders expect intelligent technologies to result in a net gain in jobs over the next three years.

But focusing on the number of jobs misses a crucial point: the major impact of AI won’t be on the number of jobs, but on the nature of jobs—and more generally, the nature of work.

Consider that 51 percent of insurance executives say that AI will transform the workplace. What’s more, 53 percent say traditional job descriptions have become obsolete as people shift to project-based work, and 29 percent report they’ve extensively redesigned jobs. Bringing applied intelligence—the combination of AI and human ingenuity—into the enterprise will kick-start a general shift in work:

To begin to enable applied intelligence, insurers must first understand what humans do well, and what machines do well—and consequently, how machines can help humans be better humans, and how humans can help machines be better machines. For example, AI is much better suited to interacting with databases and computing engines to extract insights quickly and at scale, while humans can improve AI’s performance by “raising” it (as they would a child) to be efficient, responsible and transparent.

Reimagine work to better understand how people and machines can collaborate

Most insurers recognize that training is critical to preparing their workforce to work with AI. Yet, few carriers have clarity around the skills they need to support. Many are focused on jobs, rather than taking a bigger-picture view to look at work.

A systematic approach is key to reimagining the workforce and better understanding how humans and machines can collaborate. To achieve this, insurers should:

  • Assess tasks, not jobs. Insurers should focus on the new tasks that must be performed, and then determine which ones are best suited to whom (people or machine?). This will be an ongoing process that requires observation and corrections.
  • Create new roles. AI will enable people to take on higher-value work and become more specialized, and insurers need to create new roles that reflect these new skills.
  • Map skills to the new roles. With a clear understanding of the tasks, skills and roles they need to achieve their business goals, insurers should map these against their existing workforce and identify any gaps. From there, they can take steps to address the gaps with training, or by drawing upon contract workers in the short-term.

The big idea behind reimagining work is to move the spotlight from jobs to the nature of work itself. Only then can insurers prepare workers with the necessary skills. Next, they must pivot the workforce to create new forms of value. Join me next week as I dive into that topic in more detail.

Learn more about the Future Workforce Study. To discuss how Accenture can help your organization reimagine work to foster human-machine collaboration, please get in touch.

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