It seems that not a day goes by that we’re hearing news about artificial intelligence (AI) and companies that are incorporating this technology into their business or even developing new AI applications. Machine learning, where the computer actually figures out what to do with data, goes hand-in-hand with AI.
With all the attention being given to this topic, it’s understandable that employees, regardless of the size of their company, the type of job they do, or the industry they’re in, are nervous about being replaced by AI technology. We are already seeing some evidence of this: Robots are waiting on hotel guests in some countries, algorithms are writing movie scripts, drones are analyzing crop yields, and IBM’s supercomputer is diagnosing disease. How long will it be before the human touch is declared redundant?
I admit that, yes, human workers being displaced by intelligent machines is a real possibility in some sectors. But if history is any judge, job displacement is just the first chapter of a much longer story, a story that ends with humans and machines working productively side-by-side, even machines helping humans.
Sure, automation can lead to job loss, but it often creates new jobs as it renders old ones obsolete. David Autor, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points out in a 2015 study that even as automation lays waste to a certain number of jobs, it boosts the productivity and output of enterprises, which in turn raises demand for the skilled tasks that only humans can perform.
Today in our industry, intelligence is boosting efficiency and making life easier for thousands of accounts payable professionals. AP clerks at leading companies are seeing machine-learning programs automate and streamline their daily work, flagging suspicious invoices, reducing cycle time, and saving their organizations money. This is where the automation process ceases to be frightening and becomes exciting.
As machines increasingly take over repetitive and time-consuming tasks, the AP clerk will start to ask, “What can I do that a machine cannot?” “In what creative new ways can I add value to my organization?”
Some of the new duties and responsibilities of the AP clerk have not yet been discovered, while others are already taking shape. That’s because automation lets people graduate from “data entry” with almost no impact to data analysis and collaboration. Add in machine intelligence, and the AP department becomes part of a broader sourcing strategy. In fact, at Yooz, we show our customers how their AP departments can actually become a profit center in their business!
We’re only in the early chapter of a much longer story when it comes to the automation of work done by humans today. Intelligent machines will redefine our jobs as they boost productivity. Rather than taking your job, AI will very likely free you up to do more as an AP professional. What will you do with your newfound freedom?
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(This blog reflects excerpts from the article published by Spend Matters on August 17, 2017. View the complete article here.)