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Jobs in Call Centers and Bank Back Offices Face the Axe as Enterprises Embrace ‘AI First’

Lux Research

With artificial intelligence automating finance, admin, and marketing, enterprises ponder software, strategy, technologies, and impact, says Lux Research

BOSTON, MA – March 21, 2017 – With artificial intelligence applications growing rapidly, “AI First” has become a mantra for enterprises as they begin to ponder strategy, opportunities and the right mix of technologies, according to Lux Research.

Aided by a confluence of new technologies such as deep machine learning and natural language processing, AI today offers potential in three broad business functions – customer engagement (sales, marketing, and service), human resources (recruiting, hiring and performance management), and administration (finance, security and IT management). For specific industries such as healthcare, banking and auto, the opportunities to replace or complement humans are even greater.

“Enterprise AI will follow the money, and will impact a range of jobs from ‘creative work’ like architectural and automotive design, marketing slogans and advertising campaigns to sales strategy, competitive assessment, and, of course, investing,” said Mark Bünger, Lux Research Vice President and lead author of the report titled, “Strategic Directions for Enterprise Artificial Intelligence.”

“It's nearly certain that within five years we will see the first company with no human employees at all, and likely that firm will be in banking,” he added.

Lux Research analysts mapped the landscape of enterprise AI’s enabling technologies, and key companies and events. Among their findings:

  • Wide-ranging impact in corporate jobs. Automotive is one of the industries feeling disruption as self-driven cars from Google and other companies begin to ply the roads. Healthcare and banking, in particular, have administrative- and skill-based jobs that AI can complement or replace. In shipping and warehousing, AI reduces the need for bulk storage while retailers will feel the pinch as AI-enabled stores and supply chains combine, as they do with the Amazon Go store.

  • Clear business cases built on cost-cutting. The business case for AI rests on payback from reduced costs, increasing revenues and unquantifiable “soft factors” – improvements in relationships and interactions with customers, suppliers, competitors, and other organizations. Enterprises should quantify real cost cuts (say, from chatbots as opposed to humans for customer support) but it would be harder to estimate customer frustration over dealing with a bot, and its effects on revenues.

  • Market estimates are all over the map.  Forecasters have tried in vain to quantify AI’s impact in dollar and industry terms. One estimated only $43.5 billion worldwide from 2015 to 2024, while another projects $40 billion in the single year of 2022. Some others estimate the AI market’s CAGR at between 25% and 56% over the next 10 years. Even if specific companies’ business case is clear, it’s too early to expect credible industry-wide assessments.

The report, titled “Strategic Directions for Enterprise Artificial Intelligence” is part of the Lux Research Industrial Big Data and Analytics Intelligence service.