Sultan Mahmood is the Global Financial Services leader of artificial intelligence and robotics at PwC. He also leads the development of PwC UK's AI solutions and advises clients across many industries on identifying and delivering business results enabled by disruptive technologies such as AI and robotics. Mahmood was a panelist at the recent Fortune CEO Series event, held at Salesforce's London World Tour. We spent time talking with him about artificial intelligence and the future of work. Salesforce: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful new technology with the capacity to impact on business processes across the organization.
Technological innovations have impacted almost every aspect of life over the past century. The steam engine and electricity allowed total labor productivity to grow at more than 2 percent per year and the total number of weekly work hours to drop from 60 to 40. The concept of artificial intelligence is not new but has recently come into view as a technology that is capable of revolutionizing the world and bringing a new industrial revolution. A significant amount of research and discussion among scientists and economists has focused on the critical topic of disruption to labor markets and potential productivity gains from AI. However, there is a more nuanced picture of the way in which AI will reshape how we work – in many cases augmenting our abilities and supporting organizations to redefine their operating models for improved performance and agility.
We as a generation and mankind recently outlined a critical milestone in our progress. A robot was recently awarded the citizenship of a country. Robots and automation have broken the shackles of our imagination and have become a part of our reality. While we are still far away from realizing what we have managed to sell in science fiction movies, we are closer than ever. Robots and automation have, until now, allowed machines to act and work like humans.
Artificial intelligence (AI) companies generated an estimated $8 billion of revenue in 2016 and are on an incredible trajectory to increase that figure five times over the next three years. Enterprises are increasingly investing in artificial intelligence as a way both to drive down costs and transform customer and employee experiences. According to Accenture's Technology Vision 2017 survey of more than 5,400 IT and business executives, 79 percent agree that AI will help accelerate technology adoption throughout their organizations. While the disruptive growth of AI is a fact, the impacts to the workforce are more difficult for companies to articulate and address. What is clear is that leaders in every function must begin to take a nuanced view of the role that every type of worker – human and machine – will play in the workforce of the future.