What Leaders Need to Know about Artificial Intelligence

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Artificial Intelligence can no longer be ignored. Companies now heavily rely on data and analytics to ensure business growth. We are moving rapidly towards a time when AI will be commonplace but despite this only half of UK CEOs are addressing the impact of AI or automation on their organisation, according to a recent survey by PwC. Whilst only 40% of bosses worldwide are considering the impact of AI on their future skills needs too. The UK is even further behind with only a quarter taking it into account. AI and automation will certainly transform the job market and the role of commercial leaders. The Uspire Group takes a deeper look into how.

Change in Jobs

The emergence of AI and automation will shift the balance of work between human and machine. Some jobs done by humans will become defunct whilst others like regulatory roles and AI programmers will be emerge. According to PwC, firms should be looking to upskill people who work in those areas: “Skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, leadership, creativity and innovation have never been in higher demand.”

Address Training and Skills Shortages

Companies need to be aware that employees with tech skills will be in high demand. They should ensure there is an adequate training programme to upskill their current workforce. They should also be looking to recruit more people with these skills. With Brexit looming, the UK government needs to work with companies to ensure that the shortage in skilled workers is addressed. Globally the PwC survey found that 43% of CEOs in the US were struggling to find people with the right digital knowledge compared to 24% in China. The UK is lagging even further behind with two thirds of bosses saying they can’t find people with the right skillset.

It’s All About the Data

The sales team is often the lifeblood of an organisation; effective use of AI and the data it creates will enable the sales force to run more productively. Sales people need to evolve because of the change in buyers. The fact that they also have access to targeted data make them much more sophisticated purchasers too. AI will help sales teams make data-based decisions about who to target and buyers will also have more data about what they should buy. If business can align sales people with tools to make buyer data and interaction more detailed, it should lead to better operational efficiency and ultimately revenue growth. Again a shift in skills is needed. A 2016 article by The Association of Professional Sales stated that we are in the grip of a global shortage of sales people with the right expertise. Patron of the organisation, Professor Neil Rackham states that this new trend means there is a shift away from a focus on persuasion and towards consultation, collaboration and innovation.

Start Thinking About Change Now

It’s likely that companies that are early adopters and embrace innovation will get further ahead. Combining technology with a commitment to human-centred execution will make businesses more efficient.

The Japanese hotel that has a robotic dinosaur as part of the check-in team is a sign of things to come. Big tech companies are already using AI successfully in their sales and marketing. Uber is using data to provide rides but they are also creating heat maps, so drivers know where the most demand will be. Whereas, retailing giant Amazon uses machine learning to go beyond replenishment, it can predict and forecast demand from their customers allowing them to adjust their supply decisions. The marketing team can then send targeted emails and ads to customers, which stops a scattergun approach to marketing. Companies need to explore how AI can help their business now and in the future.

Three things you can do now:

  1. Evaluate your sales force today – does it align with your growth and sales strategy?
  2. Identify where the skills gaps are, ensure training is available so your salespeople can match your more evolved buyers
  3. Map out a plan to ensure these gaps are filled over a 12-24 month timeframe.

It’s vital that organisations are able to attract people with the right tech skills but also to develop these skills internally. Here, at Uspire we go in to organisations and create champion-led change, where leaders within a business set in place in the change they want to occur and give their team and colleagues the stepping stones to allow them to do this. In a wider context, rapidly changing technology means that none of us know what the jobs of the futures will look like, championing change is something that we are all going to need to do.

To learn more about Uspire’s game changing programme click below

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