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The Top Skills Needed to Thrive in the AI Economy

In this special guest feature, Mark Robinson, co-founder of Kimble Applications, outlines the top skills employees need to develop in order to thrive in the “AI economy.” More and more business decisions will be guided by artificial intelligence moving forward. While this doesn’t mean that robots will take our jobs, it’s crucial that workers prepare for how their jobs will be evolving alongside AI. Mark has over 25 years experience in the IT industry and is a serial entrepreneur. He started his career in management consulting before working for Oracle Corporation where he was able to witness first hand their rise from start-up to software giant. For Kimble, Mark is responsible for business development, channel management and Market analysis.

AI is not our future–it’s our present. Artificial and augmented intelligence already drives many business processes behind the scenes, and the adoption rate will continue to grow exponentially as industries and business verticals continue to take notice of the power of AI. In fact, a recent study shows that 45 percent of workplace activities are already automatable. This means that skills that were once important in the workplace are growing obsolete by the day.

While this doesn’t mean that robots will take our jobs, it’s crucial that employees prepare for how their jobs will be evolving alongside AI. In short, you can’t future proof an industry or job—you’re only in control of the approach you bring to the industry or job.

The key to succeeding in the AI economy will be mastering the soft skills unattainable by a machine, such as creativity, flexibility, sociability and pragmatism. Here are the top skills needed to future-proof your career in the AI economy:

Be Creative

As rote, mundane and predictable labor becomes increasingly automated, creative work associated with the human imagination will be unprecedentedly valuable. Machines may be able to process large amounts of data, but they still cannot think as pragmatically and creatively as humans. In fact, creating something new and unique is an innate human trait.

As artificial and augmented intelligence automate manual and labor-intensive tasks in the workplace, more and more workers’ time is freed up to allow for further time devoted to higher level thinking, problem solving and creativity.

Though AI’s prevalence in the workplace continues to grow, many of the industries that will benefit from AI have yet to be invented. This puts the onus back on workers and entrepreneurs to think outside the box and utilize their creativity to build the AI economy alongside their robot counterparts.

Be Social

Today’s workplace is inherently collaborative and many employers already expect their workers to prioritize synergy and teamwork. Tech and finance companies across the board are putting a high premium on people with strong social skills.

Workers who will thrive in the AI economy will be able to adopt engaging, collaborative and communicative techniques to evoke the best work product from their colleagues and teams. It is also important that workers customize their work style to accommodate different work needs, demands and situations. This will require employees at all levels of the organizational hierarchy to be more involved in his or her personal development, coach-up and network–face-to-face and human-to-human.

Be Flexible

In an economy dominated by AI, workers must be flexible and there are two different ways of thinking about a flexible approach to working with AI that are equally critical.

Firstly, workers must be flexible in how they interpret data collected by AI, not always accepting the machine’s interpretation by default. A key to successfully working along AI is empowering employees to scrutinize the data garnered from artificial intelligence. As AI systems are only able to interpret the data they are trained upon, humans must be hypervigilant in both implementing collected data and in being able to evaluate the data and information with a discerning eye. Learning to use data selectively and judiciously rather than following it blindly will be an invaluable skill in the AI economy.

Finally, workers must be flexible to accepting new opportunities created by AI. While it might be some years before AI absorbs the bulk of workplace tasks and responsibilities, old job functions and tasks will become increasingly easier for a machine to manage. Rather than fighting the increased automation, employees should look for the emerging areas to add value and embrace those opportunities. Those who can do that will be best placed to thrive.

Though about 6 percent of jobs will be replaced by robots in just the next five years, according to research by Forrester, innately human characteristics are hard to numerate and delegate to AI. By refining the unique skill set unattainable by machine, workers can future-proof themselves as they move into the fourth industrial revolution.

 

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