At Peritus, we are frequently asked if our focus is job elimination through AI-based automation or augmenting human capabilities. The answer is yes to both but our belief is the bigger opportunity is up-skilling people to do expert level work without lengthy re-training or waiting for schools to generate a dramatically larger talent pipeline.
The general skills gap issue is well articulated in this Center for Education and Workforce (CEW) report citing a potential that 5 million positions could go unfilled by 2020 costing the economy about $160 billion a year. Within the tech industry, this means 1.2 job openings for every candidate and up to 1.5 for more specialized roles like data science and security. The result is growing attention to expert training and “hybrid jobs” where existing skilled tech workers add new role to their responsibilities.
As with any new automation technology, the jobs for repeatable and static tasks are highest potential for elimination. In customer service for technology, this trend will accelerate because the expected customer experience for rapid resolution to ever more complex issues is increasing. However, the pace of technology change and complexity creates a dynamic situation in which efficient continuous learning of existing staff is essential without extensive time off for training.
In our careers as product executives, we’ve seen time again the over-reliance on the “smoke jumpers” or “SWAT teams” that are called upon during new product introductions or customer crises. These people with unique knowledge, cognitive ability, and work ethic seem to be able to perform magic. We believe there is massive opportunity to harness the magic of these technology experts combined with continuous learning machine learning models to close the growing skills gap for customer service. We were also excited to find a similar vision articulated as a Coaching Network by the good folks at Emergence Capital!