Americans have a particularly negative view of automation and artificial intelligence, fearing that AI machines will one day replace human workers entirely. Whether cultivated by post-apocalyptic novels or sci-fi movie tales, this fear has held America back by slowing widespread innovation and adoption of technology. For example, a recent survey by alliantgroup found that one in five senior executives believe the United States is not adopting new technologies as aggressively as other countries, and 29% said we are behind other countries in digital transformation. .
But amid a staggering labor shortage with 10.9 million job openings in December 2021, U.S. businesses across industries are feeling the pressure to automate operations and deploy new technologies. to support their workforce. Notably, more than a third of senior executives cited the pandemic as having accelerated the need for digital transformation across most industries.
During my tenure at NASA, I have witnessed the positive capabilities of breakthrough innovations in AI and robotics, some reminiscent of space machines and science movies, but I have also studied the ways nuances of how this technology could work in tandem with humans on a smaller scale to alleviate labor issues that continue to plague American businesses. From improving data management to streamlining the customer service process, everyday businesses must harness AI to maintain a competitive edge in the post-pandemic landscape.
Support current and future workforce
As labor issues have snowballed over the past two years, more than one in three organizations said the pandemic influenced their decision to use automation to boost the productivity of their employees and improve resilience, proving that these new technologies are typically deployed as a way to supplement – rather than replace – the human workforce.
For example, companies that adopt a low-code or no-code AI solution can organize their treasure trove of customer data and provide industry experts with actionable insights. This way, workers can focus on using this data to make strategic business decisions, instead of wasting time analyzing the results themselves, or worse, neglecting this data altogether. Especially as more companies turn to automation in the coming years, those that fail to provide domain experts with data-driven technologies will lose key customers to advanced competitors.
In addition to supporting the existing workforce, prioritizing AI adoption will create even more technical job opportunities in the market. In fact, 31% of senior executives surveyed said that not hiring the right talent was one of the biggest mistakes they made during a digital transformation project, and 42% cited finding qualified talent. as the top priority to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. signaling the vital role that human expertise will play in the development and adoption of these new technologies. Whether an organization is building a custom machine learning model to organize its data or automating its customer service capabilities with an AI chatbot, it will need expert guidance from human engineers, data scientists, and other technical roles. to facilitate this process.
Securing resources for innovation
Even after dispelling workforce apprehensions about AI technology, many companies fear that the cost of further automation will be another barrier to adoption, but strong incentives federal authorities prove otherwise. Although investing in AI technology requires the production of resources, every organization – from large corporations to small and medium enterprises – has access to lucrative tax incentives to make this process affordable and accessible.
The research and development tax credit is available to any business that pursues some form of innovation, whether that means adopting new technologies or even improving existing workflows. This way, organizations that invest in automation or advance their AI infrastructure are eligible to claim this credit and receive significant returns to fund their current and future innovation efforts. Additionally, there are no industry limits, so companies in technology, manufacturing, engineering, etc. can leverage this resource, alongside sectors that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic such as restaurants, hospitality and travel. For example, a restaurant that has adopted artificial intelligence software to track sales trends and reservations after in-person dining reopens is eligible for reimbursement through the R&D credit.
Realize the integration of artificial intelligence
Any successful AI initiative should start by listening to your employees to identify and target pain points in your workflow. Assess where your lack of technology is hampering productivity; If your organization is feeling the effects of the “Great Resignation,” explore automating your customer service or data analytics processes to ease the workload of your current employees.
Once companies have identified these areas for improvement, they can begin to find the technical resources needed to kick-start their integration. For large enterprises, this could mean hiring data scientists and engineers to create custom AI and ML data models, while SMBs can buy and deploy a data platform or assistant. pre-verified digital to streamline operations and find new ways to reach their customer base.
Regardless of the scale, AI technologies provide the building blocks needed to augment human decision-making and support businesses in the face of the constant challenges of working in the country. In the next few years, the use of AI technologies will go from a luxury to a necessity, and organizations must advance technically today so as not to be left behind tomorrow. The reality of a lack of new talent or genuine lag behind the competition must overcome the irrational fear of a bad sci-fi movie.
Dr. Robert Ambrose is President of the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Division of allying group. Dr. Ambrose previously served as Chief of the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He continues to serve as Director of Space and Robotics at the Bush Combat Development Complex and his research interests include space systems for defense, security, and commercial applications, as well as robotics and autonomous systems to help humans on Earth.