What if you could hire Google as an employee—or even your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)? Though artificial intelligence (AI) is in its early phases, the real allure is not that it could, someday, be just like a human being, but that it could be more than a human. After all, even the smartest person in your company doesn’t have the wealth of information that Google does, all available in a microsecond.
While humankind will likely never reach the speed or accuracy of AI in performing certain tasks, employees of the future will need to function in similar ways. They will need to pull from a broad range of knowledge to find the right answers, deliver results quickly, offer a variety of solutions to a single problem, be adaptable, consider the whole market or subject before offering a suggestion, and be consistent in their performance.
Is this too much to ask? Not if they rely on technology to help. And in many ways, the capabilities of today’s technology provide a glimpse of the traits required in tomorrow’s best leaders and employees.
Technology: The Ultimate In Agility
The capabilities of today’s emerging technologies offer organizations a model of the traits employees of the future will need to succeed—and agility sits at the top of the list. No one expects human employees to have the same speed as AI algorithms. But when employees have the agility that enables them to adapt quickly to new advancements, they can leverage new technology to their own benefit, as well as their employer’s.
Artificial Intelligence and Changing Expectations
Often when we talk about the benefits AI offers businesses, employees start to, quite understandably, become concerned about their job security. AI does have a lot of value for businesses, but the robots aren’t coming to take everyone’s job. AI is, however, changing the expectations of employers and the capabilities that organizations will look for in their employees and leaders.
For example, if you’ve ever used Apple’s Siri to pull up a list of recommendations for a restaurant or coffee shop near you, you’ve taken advantage of AI’s ability to quickly deliver a variety of answers to a query.
Human employees of the future will need to be able to do much the same thing in response to customer or employer requests. Even—especially—when requests get more complex than just the best place to get a latte and doughnut, employees of the future will need to sift quickly through relevant information from a variety of sources to present a number of different possible solutions. After all, we have Google, Siri, and Alexa for the simple stuff; human employees will need to fill in where technology falls short, combining their own intuition and experience with the vast database of knowledge available to find answers.
Keeping Pace With Technology
In an increasingly technological global economy, human employees and business leaders must keep pace with advancing technology. But this has gone without saying for quite some time. More importantly, mid-to-late 21st century employees will need to adapt quickly to new developments, recognize potential digital disruptions before they take place, and adopt technology trends with lightning speed. Anyone who is not an early adopter need not apply for the most competitive positions. Even finding the best jobs will require using the latest technology, and those who prove to be on the bleeding edge of social media, search, communications, collaboration, and productivity tools will catch the attention of prospective employers.
Human Employees Vs. Digital Assistants
Digital assistants have already changed the way business leaders and employees interact with AI technology. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, the AI residing in the Echo device, are probably the most well-known examples, but there are others as well. While digital assistants don’t seem likely to replace human employees completely, human employees of the future will need to find synergy with digital assistants to maximize their productivity.
What Will Employees Need And Want?
In considering what businesses will look for in the employee of the future, we should also think about what will attract the most qualified employees to businesses. Millennials will make up a significant chunk of the workforce for some time, and the generation coming behind them, generation Z, is already even more technologically tuned in. Organizations need to be prepared to meet the needs and expectations of this new generation of workers to continue to attract top talent.
Like the millennials before them, these employees will want flexibility from their employers to learn—and work—on the go. They expect that training and development will be tailored to their needs and learning styles. This generation of people, who grew up learning in computer labs, taking tests on computers, and researching on their tablets, will want an experience tailored to their needs and their physical locations—wherever they might be.
They’re also social learners, and will want to collaborate in the work place to forge connections, share ideas, and grow both personally and professionally. Fortunately, the workplace of the future will be uniquely suited to meet these needs, with AI technology guiding the way.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.com