The potential of AI is often praised by academics, technologists and the press, but there is little information about how to adapt to this new technology and its influence on modern-day jobs. How should managers prepare themselves to ensure that they will excel in this new world of artificial intelligence?

Accenture recently conducted a research, surveying 1,770 managers from 14 countries and 37 interviewed executives responsible for the digital transformation of their company. By identifying this data, the researchers established five practices that is essential for a manager to master, to be successful.

Practice 1: Leave Administration to AI

The survey, conducted by Vegard Kolbjornsrud, Richard Amico and Robert J. Thomas, found that managers spend more than half their time on administrative coordination and control tasks, despite what levels they are managing. Anything from coordinating sick-leave to holidays, these are the responsibilities that managers expect artificial intelligence to influence the most. “And they are correct: AI will automate many of these tasks”, the article writes.

Another relevant example of this “genre” is report writing. “. The Associated Press expanded its quarterly earnings reporting from approximately 300 stories to 4,400 with the help of AI-powered software robots. In doing so, technology freed up journalists to conduct more investigative and interpretive reporting”, the article writes.

Another example is report writing, and how it can be simplified through AI, such as the Associated Press expanding its quarterly earnings reporting from some 300 stories, to 4,400 through AI-powered robots. By applying this technology for management reports it frees up time to do other, more important tasks.

Practice 2: Focus on Judgment Work

The managers interviewed in the survey said that they identify the judgment-oriented skills of creative thinking and experimentation, data analysis and interpretation, and strategy development as three of the four top new skills that will be required to succeed in the future.

Quoting Layne Thompson, Director of ERP Services for a U.S. Navy IT Organisation: “More often than not, managers think of what they’re doing as requiring judgment, discretion, experience, and the capacity to improvise, as opposed to simply applying rules. And if one of the potential promises of machine learning is the ability to help make decisions, then we should think of technology as being intended to support rather than replace [managers]”, the article writes.

Practice 3: Treat Intelligent Machines as “Colleagues”

The research also revealed that managers will find it beneficial to view AI-assistants as colleagues, rather than threats, and realising that it is not necessary to “race against a machine”.

“While human judgment is unlikely to be automated, intelligent machines can add enormously to this type of work, assisting in decision support and data-driven simulations as well as search and discovery activities. In fact, 78% of the surveyed managers believe that they will trust the advice of intelligent systems in making business decisions in the future”, the researchers said.

Practice 4: Work Like a Designer

As a manager, it is essential to have the ability to harness the creativity of others, and a third of the managers asked in the survey, saw creative thinking and experimentation as an essential skill area, necessary to learn in order to stay successful as AI is increasingly taking over administrative work.

This statement is also supported by Peter Harmer, CEO of Insurance Australia Group, as he believes that managers who foster collaborative creativity in the digital enterprise, is very much needed. “We need people who can actually layer ideas on ideas. Not somebody who has to win in a competition around ideas, but somebody who can say, ‘Crikey! If we bring these two or three or four things together, we’ve got something very, very different.’ That’s the creativity, the curiosity [we need in managers]”, Harmer said.

Practice 5: Develop Social Skills and Networks

The researchers also revealed that the managers they interviewed recognised the value of judgment work. However, they did undervalue the deep social skills that are essential to networking, coaching and collaborating. These skills would benefit them in terms of standing out in a world dominated by AI, where many of the administrative and analytical tasks can be conducted by a robot.

“While they will use digital technologies to tap into the knowledge and judgment of partners, customers, and communities, they must be able to tease out and bring together diverse perspectives, insights, and experiences”, the researchers said.

Summary: 

After conducting the survey the researchers believed that there were three key takeaways from the results:

The first is to explore early – in order to successfully navigate in an uncertain future, managers must try to experiment with artificial intelligence, and add their own insights to the next cycle of experiments, the article says.

Adopt new key performance indicators to drive adoption – “AI will bring new criteria for success: collaboration capabilities, information sharing, experimentation, learning and decision-making effectiveness, and the ability to reach beyond the organization for insights”.

Develop training and recruitment strategies for creativity, collaboration, empathy, and judgment skills – experience should be combined with creative and social intelligence by leaders that can build a team of managers that possess both, to ensure that each side compliments and supports each other.

The survey can be found here: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-promise-artificial-intelligence