Artificial intelligence to make most business decisions by 2035

More than half (57%) of surveyed company executives believe artificial intelligence (AI) will make most business decisions by 2035, and potentially eliminate the need for senior management teams.

This is according to Work 2035, a study conducted by Citrix Systems in partnership with futurist consultancy Oxford Analytica.

The research is based on a year-long examination of global work patterns and plans, to understand how work will change and the role that technology will play in enabling employees to perform at their best by year 2035.

The study surveyed over 1 500 C-suite executives and employees within large corporations and mid-market businesses across the globe, on current and future workforce strategies and work models.

It highlights that business models of the future will bear little resemblance to those of today, as teams working hand-in-hand with technology will reduce the need for senior management who typically oversee and supervise projects.

According to the study, by 2035, robots will not replace workers, but new roles will emerge to support a technology-driven workplace and the changing relationship between humans and machines, resulting in employees being more engaged and productive, and fuelling innovation and business growth like never before.

Around 75% of respondents believe most organisations will have a central AI department overseeing all areas of the business, and 69% said the CEO will work in a human-machine partnership with the chief of AI.

According to respondents, the most valuable positions / roles of the future will be robot / AI trainer (82% of leaders / 44% of employees); virtual reality manager (79% of leaders / 36% of employees); advanced data scientist (76% of leaders / 35% of employees); privacy and trust manager (68% leaders / 30% of employees); and design thinker (56% of leaders / 27% of employees).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to reimagine the way things get done, and over the next 15 years, they will face more challenges and disruptions than ever,” says Tim Minahan, executive VP of business strategy at Citrix.

“But as Work 2035 makes clear, within this chaos lies opportunity. Savvy companies are using this crisis to begin planning for the ‘next normal’; not just to return to where they were, but to embrace new workforce and work models to power their business forward.”

The study further notes that organisations will invest more in technology and AI than human capital. This will open the door to unprecedented levels of innovation and new revenue streams, and will fuel sustainable growth – particularly among small businesses.

Flexible workforce

Over half (60%) of workers believe permanent employees will become rare by 2035, and 39% of leaders believe the majority of high-value specialist workers will be on-demand and freelance workers will be more prevalent.

Technology that allows for seamless access to the tools and the information that people need to collaborate and get work done remotely will fuel flexible models that the future of work will demand.

“Technology has ‘levelled the playing field’ for smaller businesses, giving them the reach and scale of much bigger rivals. AI, machine learning and data capture and analysis tools have become so powerful and reliable that they have enabled businesses to drastically downsize their permanent human workforce,” notes the study.

Some 66% of employees and 54% of business leaders believe that in 2035, humans with chips in their bodies to enhance their performance will have an unfair advantage in the labour market.

In addition, 60% of employees expect that governments will seek to regulate labour practices more stringently, due to the fall in permanent employment and the rise of on-demand working patterns.

Half of those professionals surveyed believe technology will make workers at least twice as productive by 2035.

The technology solutions that will be commonplace include AI that anticipates and performs tasks based on habits and preferences; AI personal assistants; AI-guided digital wellness to ensure employees’ mental and physical well-being; wearable technology to interact with systems; augmented reality glasses; and neuro-linked technology for controlling devices and exoskeletons to enhance performance-related tasks.

“Productivity will get a major boost – technology, closely integrated with humans, will drive step changes in productivity, as workers will be supported by solutions that enable them to perform at their best,” according to the study.

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