The Retailer Winter Edition 2022


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Dr Alan McCabe Chief Technical Officer Roubler

T he 1984 sci-fi thriller The Terminator presented us with an epic bat tle between humankind and smart machines. For those who aren’t familiar with the pop-culture reference, the film focuses on self-aware military AI that sets out to exterminate all of humanity using robots, cyborgs and drones. Fast forward to 2021, and an impending robopocalypse is a hot topic amongst retail leaders and employees alike – although Schwarzenegger-esque robots aren’t so much a part of the conversation. Instead, the chatter is about a different kind of controversy – one that calls into question traditional models of work and employment. The latest research suggests that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by machines and AI. Does that mean we should all be in a state of fear over losing our jobs? Absolutely not. The same report also mentions that within the same time frames, AI is more than likely to create 97 million new jobs. Despite the fact that AI sounds like some thing out of a sci-fi movie, for many retailers it is already a reality, working hand-in-circuit board with humans to help increase workforce productivity and efficiency. Nonetheless, many employees still feel threatened in the face of the inevitableAI infiltration – a notion that has gained traction over recent years. Ultimately, AI won’t replace people, but it will transform thewaywework andmake us rethink what’s possible. As a result, humanswill become increasinglymore able to focus on meaningful work, employee engagement will increase, and adopting technology as it emerges will be a defining factor in business success.

Being human The idea of AI replacing humans in the workplace assumes that the two are easily interchangeable – which is simply not true. Humans bring intrinsic value that cannot be replicated bymachinery and coding. Successful businesses are powered by human judgement based on values, culture, theory of mind, and life experience. AI is fast, rational and accu rate but lacks human intuition, empathy and emotional intellect. For example, it takes a human touch to know how to offer empathy if a customer is having a bad day, or how to demonstrate genuine interest when asking a customer what their plans are for the weekend. Humans are, unsur prisingly, better at the human touch – and AI gives us the ability to go out and use these superpowers to their full potential. Much like the rise of computers at work, AI complements people by creating newways of doing things efficiently. Many businesses are using to AI to focus on the betterment of their overall workforce, establishing the systems and processes that will allow employees to thrive. Roubler’s workforce management software pro vides an all-in-one solution, with one source of truth for all employee data from recruit ment through to rostering, payroll and beyond. Roubler removes the need for HR and payroll to spend endless hours entering and reconciling data, giving them time to focus on the complex problem solving and relationship building their jobs require. In the future, AI-powered demand forecast ing will automatically create rosters based on profitability, labour efficiency and workload. Employee mental health analytics provide man agers with aggregated trends across locations, enabling them to take action before situations escalate. Automating workforce management

Working in harmony Forward-thinking businesses leaders world wide are already using AI and automation to increase employee engagement and create job satisfaction by enabling more meaning ful work. Machines don’t require motivating, and can process data with ease, opening up a breadth of opportunities for humanswhowould otherwise be preoccupied with repetitive and error-prone tasks. There are many examples of AI enriching the experience for employees. Drones and robots are being developed to scope out safety con ditions for miners, park rangers are using AI to track and prevent poaching, andAI systems are helping storeworkers to stop shoplifters in their tracks. This harmonious balance between man and machine boosts engagement by creating a sense of purpose in people who might oth erwise be toiling away without a clear sense of purpose. Talking tech Today’s leaders should be focussing on how best to harness the latest AI and automation technologies now, to maintain a competitive edge in the future. Digital transformation in the workplace is inevitable, and the pace at which businesses can adopt the latest tools will be a key indicator of whether businesses will thrive and survive. When rolling out new tech, taking a robust project management approachwill ensure the process goes smoothly. This includes having the right conversations with employees to alleviate any concerns, and ensuring teams are prepared to work in harmony with their new automated assistants. Now is the time to focus on improving workforce management today, in preparation for the age of AI that will be here tomorrow.

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