2020 will be a pivotal year in AI-related employment dynamics, according to Gartner, Inc., as artificial intelligence (AI) will become a positive job motivator.
The number of jobs affected by AI will vary by industry; through 2019, healthcare, the public sector and education will see continuously growing job demand while manufacturing will be hit the hardest. Starting in 2020, AI-related job creation will cross into positive territory, reaching two million net-new jobs in 2025.
"Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation – that overshadows the greatest AI benefit – AI augmentation – a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other," Ms. Sicular explains.
AI will create 2.3 million jobs in 2020, while eliminating 1.8 million
"Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route," said Svetlana Sicular, research vice president at Gartner. AI will improve the productivity of many jobs, eliminating millions of middle- and low-level positions, but also creating millions more new positions of highly skilled, management and even the entry-level and low-skilled variety.
IT leaders should not only focus on the projected net increase of jobs. With each investment in AI-enabled technologies, they must take into consideration what jobs will be lost, what jobs will be created, and how it will transform how workers collaborate with others, make decisions and get work done.
"Now is the time to really impact your long-term AI direction," said Ms. Sicular. "For the greatest value, focus on augmenting people with AI. Enrich people's jobs, reimagine old tasks and create new industries. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats."
AI applied to nonroutine work is more likely to assist humans than replace them as combinations of humans and machines will perform more effectively than either human experts or AI-driven machines working alone will.
AI in retail
Leveraging technologies such as AI and robotics, retailers will use intelligent process automation to identify, optimize and automate labor-intensive and repetitive activities that are currently performed by humans, reducing labor costs through efficiency from headquarters to distribution centers and stores. Many retailers are already expanding technology use to improve the in-store check-out process.
Through 2022, multichannel retailer efforts to replace sales associates through AI will prove unsuccessful, although cashier and operational jobs will be disrupted. However, research suggests that many consumers still prefer to interact with a knowledgeable sales associate when visiting a store, particularly in specialized areas such as home improvement, drugstores and cosmetics, where informed associates can make a significant impact on customer satisfaction. Though they will reduce labor used for check-out and other operational activities, retailers will find it difficult to eliminate traditional sales advisers.
"Retailers will be able to make labor savings by eliminating highly repetitive and transactional jobs, but will need to reinvest some of those savings into training associates who can enhance the customer experience," said Robert Hetu, research director at Gartner. "As such most retailers will come to view AI as a way to augment customer experiences rather than just removing humans from every process."