20 November 2018
Boardrooms, bots and the future of the workplace

By Angus Morshead, Junior Consultant

How a changing approach to work and the development of AI technology will shape the future of work.

Boardroom robot

It’s a headline we see all too often: AI is coming to take our jobs. A common fear since the 80s, when Tron, RoboCop and the Terminator first took to the screens, the idea that automation and artificial intelligence poses a threat is one that persists, despite credible reports to the contrary. 

According to another recent report, IT departments are struggling to balance the everyday running of tech operations with the demand for innovation. So perhaps the danger of being replaced is further away than we think – or maybe we could benefit from an at-work virtual assistant? Either way, it seems the role of techies in the workplace is changing. 

An artificial helping hand

Whilst the idea of robots in the workplace might be disagreeable to many employees, we’re using more and more artificial intelligence to assist us at home. It makes sense then that the next step is using AI and automation to help us with the more mundane tasks at work. Business leaders certainly seem to think so, with 81 per cent of them in favour of robotics in the workplace. The same report supports the notion that automation will be used to boost productivity, rather than cut staff, as just 5 per cent of those that have implemented robotics did so in order to reduce costs. 

An expert helping hand

If IT departments struggle to cope with managing both innovation and everyday operations and artificial intelligence isn’t viable, workers may find themselves working with temporary colleagues, or with others from outside of their organisations. A survey from KPMG found that 61 per cent of CEOs are currently relying on a network of third parties to support growth and innovation. No longer thought of as the department lingering in the basement, advising people to ‘turn it off and on again’, IT is now seen as a huge driver in modernisation. 

A hand in decision making

In recognising that future growth potential can be shaped and influenced by the IT team, many CIOs – and others that hold the top tech titles – have been given a seat on the board in forward-thinking businesses. Currently, 83 per cent of CIOs state that they are part of their organisations’ executive leadership team, but just 29 per cent are full board members. As technology becomes the heart of more and more corporations, it is vital that decision makers recognise the importance and influence of the CIO, and cement this with an invitation to the board.

Whether by artificial or external means, it seems that IT departments require support to balance the demands placed upon them. In gaining a seat on the board, CIOs can ensure their departments receive the necessary provisions to both maintain current systems and processes and to develop and innovate. As the best in business begin to promote tech experts, it is truer than ever that the future of the workplace rest in IT’s hands.