The Australian workforce is set to see almost an entire generation retire within the next 15 years. Firstlinks predicts that there will be more baby boomers exiting the workforce than 15-year-olds entering it. Compounding generational resignation is a growing number of jobs, as RMIT estimates that digitisation alone will create an estimated 250,000 jobs by 2025.
This leaves the workforce in a vulnerable position. While the pandemic has accelerated digital innovation and adaptation of work practices, the increase has been minimal to keep up with the forecasted baby bust. If not strategically addressed, this, coupled with the damage COVID-19 has caused on skilled migration and business operations, will lead to a great deficit in the workforce.
To combat this challenging projection, businesses need to begin the rapid uptake and implementation of AI and automation, combating The Great Resignation with The Great Digital Transformation.
Artificial Intelligence to Manage Unstructured Data
AI is already prevalent in our everyday lives, and usually goes completely unnoticed. Take for example, smart assistants like Siri or Alexa, facial recognition on your devices, online banking capabilities, and even ride-sharing apps like Uber. These examples aren’t what we would typically picture when we think of the concept of AI, but really, AI is just intelligence, in digital form, giving us simple solutions through Intelligent automated (IA) processes.
In business, IA technologies work to automate business workflows, in the office or from home. Once implemented, these automated workflows make It easier to be proactive and navigate unpredictability which is always a risk in business.
Think about it like this - customer-facing workflows require information to be captured, extracted, understood and organised. These tasks occur often at the very beginning of the transaction and can benefit greatly from AI. The better an organisation’s automation solution is at this stage, the less document-heavy, mundane workflow pressure there is on workers, and AI can make all the difference.
For instance, there are many solutions that can capture data from structured documents that don’t often change, like an application form or a driver’s license. But data doesn’t always come in neat packages. It’s often unstructured, like in an email or a review of your products. AI can cut through the clutter, separating, and organising the data. Taking it a step further, AI can deliver more than characters or words from a page. What if that email is a complaint? Or products are experiencing unfavourable reviews? When striving for a great customer experience, organisations should have access to this information immediately. Sentiment analysis can capture the mood of written words, giving unprecedented insight into how customers are thinking.
Access to this AI-enhanced data improves the rest of the organisational workflows and creates a more effective and productive employee experience - they’re not constantly deciphering incomplete or inaccurate data.
Adapting to the New Realities
Adopting AI and automation opens up the workforce’s capabilities to greater productivity, innovation and efficiency. Businesses who have thrived throughout the pandemic and have emerged unscathed are those that were more agile to adapt to automation and lean on technologies to support them through the crisis they were facing.
And now, while we begin to label COVID-19 as a normal part of business strategy, we need to be mindful of future crisis’ like the baby bust and begin the strategic journey of setting up businesses to combat challenges in workforce labour and skills shortages through AI. This doesn’t mean replacing humans with digital workflows, quite the opposite. This simply means supporting humans in business and allowing them to focus more time on what they do best and less time on time-consuming processes and data management.
With a workforce that is on the brink of significant change, embracing AI is critical to bridging the gaps the baby bust is predicted to create.