Data Integration

AI Won’t Replace Humans - But It Will Change How We Make Decisions

Headshot of blog author James Fisher

James Fisher

4 min read

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Have you heard the phrase “AI won't replace humans - but humans with AI will replace humans without AI”? I personally love this quote because it perfectly encapsulates the nature of the anticipated workforce shift from the rise of generative AI. As I wrote back in 2017, the power of AI is not about machines supplanting human abilities, but rather about a symbiotic relationship between humans and AI. I think the Star Trek analogy I used then is standing the test of time…

If AI promises to reshape the way we work, then it will also change the way we make decisions. And there too, human engagement will remain key. At Qlik, we firmly believe that AI is a key enabler for decision velocity at scale (one of our published trends for 2023). By augmenting and automating decisions, AI will decrease the time it takes for people to find data and increase the frequency of acting on it.

How AI augments decisions

AI augments decision making by swiftly sifting through massive datasets, identifying patterns, and providing valuable insights, predictions, and data-driven recommendations. Unlike humans, AI algorithms don't suffer from information overload or fatigue. They can process and analyze data continuously and consistently, making it easier for individuals and businesses to access relevant information promptly. This augmented decision-making capability not only empowers professionals to make more informed choices but also allows them to do so in a fraction of the time it would take without AI assistance. We see this at play every day with our own customers.

How AI automates decisions

AI systems excel at automating repetitive and routine decisions, freeing up humans to focus on more strategic and creative tasks. Tasks that once demanded significant time and human intervention, such as data entry, data retrieval, and basic customer inquiries, can now be automated through AI-powered systems. This not only frees up human resources to focus on more strategic and complex decisions, but also increases the frequency at which decisions can be made - optimizing decision velocity at scale. With the rise of generative AI, the combination of AI and automation becomes even more powerful because systems can synthesize information that enables that strategic decisioning. The result: decisioning assisted by AI but done by the humans.

How new roles will emerge (and not just the ones you think)

There has been quite a bit of chatter this year on the rise of the Chief AI Officer and other new AI-focused roles like prompt engineers. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 35% of large organizations will have named a Chief AI Officer reporting to a CEO or COO. According to new analysis by Boston Consulting Group, demand for prompt engineers has sky-rocketed this year - but that may be short-lived as generative AI capabilities become more advanced.

There is also a different type of roles that we see emerging which have largely been absent from the AI chatter: decision-focused positions with titles like the Chief Decision Officer, Decision Designer, and Decision Engineer. These could actually become the next rock stars in your organizations, just as CIOs were in the 90’s, and more recently Chief Data Officers. These roles would be tasked not only with automating routine decisions but also addressing the biggest, thorniest problems you face. The Chief Decision Officer would be responsible for overseeing the entire process - including not only automating tactical decisions but also strategic decision making, and ensuring it is done in a governed fashion in compliance with regulations. Meanwhile, the role of decision designers and decision engineers would be to connect with people in the organization to drive decisioning. Again, in this scenario human oversight is critical, and strategic thinking remains essential.

For any data professionals out there nervous about this shift, my advice would be to embrace AI and adapt to the change as best you can. We know that generative AI has formidably empowered the end user where anyone can log onto ChatGPT and other tools and start using them right away. AI is becoming table stakes for businesses, so now is the time to learn how to leverage AI-enhanced solutions in your daily routines - without necessarily having to become a data engineer or scientist. By enhancing your productivity and enabling your organization to make better, faster decisions, your future should be bright.

As organizations accelerate AI adoption, decision-making and roles will continue to evolve. Those who embrace AI have an incredible opportunity to help define the future.

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