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How Artificial Intelligence Will Redefine Management

Source | Harvard Business Review : By Vegard Kolbjørnsrud, Richard Amico & Robert J. Thomas

Many alarms have sounded on the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to upend the workforce, especially for easy-to-automate jobs. But managers at all levels will have to adapt to the world of smart machines. The fact is, artificial intelligence will soon be able to do the administrative tasks that consume much of managers’ time faster, better, and at a lower cost.

How can managers — from the front lines to the C-suite — thrive in the age of AI? To find out, we surveyed 1,770 managers from 14 countries and interviewed 37 executives in charge of digital transformation at their organizations. Using this data, we identified five practices that successful managers will need to master.

Practice 1: Leave Administration to AI

According to the survey, managers across all levels spend more than half of their time on administrative coordination and control tasks. (For instance, a typical store manager or a lead nurse at a nursing home must constantly juggle shift schedules because of staff members’ illnesses, vacations, or sudden departures.) These are the very responsibilities that the same managers expect to see AI affecting the most. And they are correct: AI will automate many of these tasks.

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Report writing is another relevant example. The Associated Press expanded its quarterly earnings reporting from approximately 300 stories to 4,400 with the help of AI-powered software robots. In doing so, technology freed up journalists to conduct more investigative and interpretive reporting. Imagine technology like this drafting your next management report; in fact, this is already possible for some analytical management reports. Recently, the data analytics company Tableau announced a partnership with Narrative Science, a Chicago-based provider of natural language generation tools. The result of the collaboration is Narratives for Tableau, a free Chrome extension that automatically creates written explanations for Tableau graphics.

The managers we surveyed see such change in a positive light: Eighty-six percent said they would like AI support with monitoring and reporting.

Practice 2: Focus on Judgment Work

Many decisions require insight beyond what artificial intelligence can squeeze from data alone. Managers use their knowledge of organizational history and culture, as well as empathy and ethical reflection. This is the essence of human judgment — the application of experience and expertise to critical business decisions and practices. Managers we surveyed have a sense of a shift in this direction and identify the judgment-oriented skills of creative thinking and experimentation, data analysis and interpretation, and strategy development as three of the four top new skills that will be required to succeed in the future.

Read On…

 

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