Are you still stuck in a daydream where intelligent robots are a future thing? You might not know, but the future is here. We are stepping out of 2017 and if Intel’s recent report is to be believed, nearly 70% of the Indian firms will start using AI services by 2020. Not so far away, right?

Who are these organisations who are ready to deploy intelligent agents into their manufacturing/business units? The survey conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) included 194 Indian organisations who are all largely impressed by the power of automation. They key difference between a machine and an intelligent agent is, intelligence. We need humans to operate these machines, very few industries have been able to deploy completely automatic units that work without human intervention. But even these need labourers for their maintenance and repair. Getting intelligent agents into the picture seems to change the equation altogether.

What needs to be considered here is, ‘has all of this been thought through?’ and most importantly, ‘are we, as Indians going to our same old mundane workplaces doing the same work each day, ready for this change?’ Does AI technology need human assistance to be effective? If so, then what new skills are needed on our part? And if not, then will this add to our unemployment issue?

Before we go look into all these aspects, let’s consider what technology from the field of Artificial Intelligence is suitable for Indian offices and how are they going to work.

Major sectors that are motivated to use AI are banking and manufacturing. The main reason why they want to do so is to improve the customer experience. Apart from that AI is also being looked up for providing consistency, which again adds up to a greater customer experience. Banking organisations also hope to reduce frauds and stick more to the rules and policies while taking decisions. The same goes for retail industry and automotive industry.

The Banking, Financial Services and Insurance sector aims to find three major benefits out of AI in the coming five years:

  • Increase in workforce productivity
  • Better understanding of big data which would help in analytics
  • Stand out for innovation

A huge concern in the banking sector is money laundering. Anti-money-laundering or AML is a set of rules implemented to help detect black from white. While these algorithms are efficient, the aid of artificial intelligent agents can help curb launderers once and for all. Chatbots are another use of AI that can be implemented in any sector eliminating the need of call centers. In future, an organisation might not have to wait for action on customers’ part for getting recommendations. As our ability to crunch Big Data improves, AI can help make recommendations and innovations on the go. We might not even know we need a change before it is made by these intelligent agents. The BFSI sector is also planning to use AI for making decisions about investments in Hedge Funds. With its ability to learn from huge amount of data taken from various sources, AI will prove to be very useful in searching for patterns in the market.

It seems that all industries will benefit greatly with the deployment of AI in the workforce. So far we have been looking at the whole equation from the industries’ point of view. What about the workforce we currently have employed? What about us? Are we really ready for this shift?

All the hype about Artificial Intelligence aside, we have to admit that even the term is somewhat unfamiliar to a common civilian. We know and hear about intelligent robots being able to do what we do with far more efficiency and productivity than an average person will ever achieve and it has all been a dream until now. Intel’s report comes as a shock, as much as of a exciting news to everyone who has a job.

Looking at history of innovations, every new technology does seem to eliminate the need for a few roles but on the brighter side, it also creates more employment opportunities. If the same is true for AI then we need not worry. But what skills are required to harness AI is hard to say. In fact, 65% of the firms who participated in the survey conducted by IDC reported that they believed they were going to have an acute shortage of staff who would have the required skill sets to operate in these new AI deployed work environments. We can only wait for the not-so-far-future to answer these set of questions.