“Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route,” said Svetlana Sicular, research vice president at Gartner. “Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation — that overshadows the greatest AI benefit, AI augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other.”
Gartner experts predict that automation will continue to heighten productivity and efficiency, which will underscore workplace redundancies leading to the removal of low and middle-level positions, but has the opportunity to create new jobs in its wake. Its analysts forecasted that AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.
“Applying AI to less routine work that is more varied due to lower repeatability will soon start yielding superior benefits,” a Gartner spokesman said. “AI applied to non-routine work is more likely to assist humans than replace them as combinations of humans and machines will perform more effectively than either human experts or AI-driven machines working alone will.”
Automation — and robotics — will increasingly advance the supply chain, too. As retailers and brands are faced with consumer demands for accelerated shipment and delivery options, AI stands to be the main tool that will elevate current workflow. “Retailers will use intelligent process automation to identify, optimize and automate labor-intensive and repetitive activities that are currently performed by humans, reducing labor costs through efficiency from headquarters to distribution centers and stores,” said the spokesman.
What’s more, AI holds the ability to invigorate current point-of-sale and checkout experiences — but likely won’t replace store associates entirely. Consumers are still driving the retail experience and look for human interaction, particularly in the beauty category. “Retailers will use intelligent process automation to identify, optimize and automate labor-intensive and repetitive activities that are currently performed by humans, reducing labor costs through efficiency from headquarters to distribution centers and stores,” said the Gartner spokesman.
Automation’s effect on the retail market will impose a balancing act of removal and replacement. “Retailers will be able to make labor savings by eliminating highly repetitive and transactional jobs, but will need to reinvest some of those savings into training associates who can enhance the customer experience,” said Robert Hetu, research director at Gartner.
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