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Cooperation between Man and Artificial Intelligence

How can people and artificial intelligence work together in the future?

Artificial intelligence and digitalization produce new headlines every day. The tenor of the report fluctuates between admiration and admonition. How can people and machines work together in the future? Or won’t they work together because machines do the work?

For large parts of the population, the image of artificial intelligence is dominated by boulevard publications and the film industry. If machines learn to defeat the human grandmasters in chess or Go, media satisfaction spreads. Artificial intelligence represents the pinnacle of human inventiveness. In the films The Matrix and Terminator, on the other hand, machines have long since taken control of enslaved humanity. The mood oscillates between fear and admiration. The Handelsblatt, for example, chose the lowest common denominator in a commentary in which AI was described as a curse and a blessing.[1]

AI has come to stay

Highly specialized systems based on machine learning, pattern recognition or robotics are conquering ever larger fields of application. AI systems are used in the insurance industry to uncover cases of fraud or to process claims, they optimize routes and merchandise planning in retail and personalize the way consumers are approached in marketing or create individual dynamic prices. Even in highly specialized areas, AI systems are set to take over people’s tasks. Self-learning systems prepare forecasts and evaluate key figures in controlling.

And the experiences of the first companies to rely on AI are impressively positive. Last year, insurer Zurich caused a sensation when the company reported that it had processed claims in the claims handling area using AI within seconds for which a person needed more than 50 minutes. There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will shape the world of work shortly.

AI creates more sales and new jobs

That sounds like a job-killing technology that brings the destruction of livelihoods. The study “Reworking the Revolution” by Accenture comes to a different conclusion. There is no doubt that AI systems will take over people’s tasks. For example, chatbots will communicate with customers directly over the phone without people noticing that they are talking to a computer. But at the end of the day, the authors of the study assume that companies that rely on AI could increase their sales by up to 38 percent by 2022 and even create more net jobs.

But the tasks of the employees will change. Surprised, Accenture found that few companies have recognized that changing the world of work requires different skills from their employees.

The new world of work requires new skills and competencies

AI systems are IT systems. Competences with complex technical systems and the computer will undoubtedly retain their already great importance. But IT knowledge alone will not be enough in the working world of the future to keep employees firmly in the saddle. The assumption of more complex tasks by the machines enables new forms of cooperation. In industry, employees will probably no longer be responsible for a particular machine or manufacturing step. If machines transfer workpieces to each other and the production of another piece can be started with just a few mouse clicks, the employees have a new role to play. You need to keep an eye on processes, perhaps even communicate directly with suppliers or customers. But they must also be equipped with the necessary skills to do so.

Digitization and the introduction of AI in companies can only succeed if employees are involved from the outset and do not become affected. However, inclusion makes it necessary for employees to recognize the benefits of the technologies. It is not possible without knowledge about one’s own company, current developments in the industry as a whole and an understanding of what the actual business model of the employer is.

Create an atmosphere that encourages learning and the fun of training

While in the past one or the other employers may have only considered the demand for “lifelong learning” as just a phrase and invested accordingly cautiously in further training, demand is becoming more urgent than ever. Because AI systems change at a rapid pace. This is why companies need to create an atmosphere that encourages learning and the fun of training.

As far as can already be seen today, AI systems promote interdisciplinary work and corresponding forms of organization. The employee of the future must, therefore, be able to adapt to changing situations and other people. Such social competencies will be just as necessary as incentives for more creativity. In many cases, AI systems will aggregate data, but the necessary conclusions and the verification of valid hypotheses will continue to be the responsibility of human intelligence.

This is why companies will benefit most from AI, which best combines the benefits of electronic systems with the capabilities of people. And this can only be achieved with solid further training and active management of competencies in a company.

Learn more:

[1] https://www.handelsblatt.com/meinung/kommentare/kommentar-kuenstliche-intelligenz-ist-gleichzeitig-fluch-und-segen/21006486.html?ticket=ST-372739-bwhjlDya4cJUNj71Btba-ap3

Competence Management in Times of Digital Transformation

Active competence management: door opener for a successful future

Digital transformation places new and different demands on employees more than ever before. How can companies meet this challenge? Effective competence management is an important instrument that many companies still criminally neglect.

Whether it is the first industrial revolution or digital change: well-trained employees and managers have always been indispensable for companies. What has changed with the fourth industrial revolution is the fact that almost every industry is currently experiencing serious upheavals in an unprecedented dynamic. Artificial intelligence and information retrieval systems provide information within seconds, analyze facts and make forecasts faster than any human being can.

The knowledge-based society involves a change of paradigms. Pure technical and methodological knowledge is no longer sufficient to meet the challenges of the future. What is almost more important is what employees do with their skills, how they tackle problems in practice. Especially in complex situations, in which the known rules, old knowledge and skills are no longer sufficient to solve the problem, employees must be able to solve the unknown challenge themselves. And this is exactly what they need, the appropriate competence in several fields of action. This requires new learning spaces and new learning concepts through further training – and the introduction of systematic competence management.

Competencies are not “skills”

But: What exactly is competence management? Active and strategic competence management is an important tool to deploy employees according to their qualifications, to promote their careers and to pursue the competence requirements of the company which are necessary to achieve the goals they have set themselves.

The basis for competence management is a competence model that lists or respectively groups existing and required competences. A competency model consists of a set of key competences selected in accordance with a company’s business objectives. By way of example, these may include:

  • Professional competence: Specific knowledge, skills or abilities required to carry out professional tasks.
  • Methodological competence: the ability to tackle tasks and problems in a structured and effective manner. Learned working methods or solution strategies must be able to be applied and further developed independently.
  • Social competence: This is becoming increasingly important in the distributed world of work and self-organized work and includes all skills that are effective in relationships with other people.
  • Personality competence: This allows a person to act in a self-organized and reflexive manner. This requires the ability to assess oneself, to develop one’s own talents and to develop creatively.
  • Leadership competence: Developing organizational requirements, initiating change, guiding and enabling employees and teams belong in this area. This also includes reviewing performance and providing constructive feedback.

The last example shows that competence clusters cannot be viewed absolutely separately. Because a portion of social competence is necessary for constructive feedback.

Typical challenges, hurdles or errors in the introduction of a competency model are:

  • Identification of too many competences without comparison with the company goals.
  • Lack of or difficult identification of business-critical competences.
  • Confusion of specialist knowledge with competences or a one-dimensional focus on specialist competences.
  • No account is taken of competences that are not currently part of the job description or work organization, but will play an important role in the future.
  • Collecting competences without the participation of employees. They should know through their daily activities what competence they currently need for their tasks or what they are lacking.
  • No involvement of managers in the survey of the required competences.

Effective competence management: success factors

In fact, competence management reflects the corporate strategy. It is therefore essential that the company has a clear plan of what business goals it pursues, how it can achieve these goals and what competences it needs to achieve them.

Therefore, the analysis and definition of areas of competence and the definition of the concrete characteristics for tasks, activities and job profiles derived from them are indispensable. It is also important that the competences of employees are determined independently, comparably and reproducibly. In addition to the development of relevant competence profiles, it is important to install an independent competency assessment and assessment of the employees and to counter the results of the competence gap analysis with the development of programs that are suitable for closing these competence gaps. Those who do not have the necessary know-how in-house are well advised to call in external support.

Advantages of effective competence management

Conclusion: Effective competence management determines the current situation and a forward-looking inventory of the skills of all employees. By defining job roles and their associated competences, executives are able to identify strengths and skill gaps more quickly and thereby actively turn their attention on the employees’ performance drive. To this end, the company is actively counteracting the risk of a reduction in performance and reduced value added.

It makes sense to set up a competence management system as a strategic staff unit within the company. It can provide information on targeted learning opportunities for skills development with the aim of improving individual and organizational performance in order to achieve better business results. Training without added value for the company is a thing of the past, critical skills gaps are identified more quickly and actively closed. And: Experience has shown that effective competence management also increases satisfaction among employees and managers, which benefits the corporate climate, team motivation and thus productivity.

70-20-10 Learning model

70-20-10? What still applies to personnel developers after 30 years – and what does not.

70-20-10: Over three decades these have been the dream measures for personnel developers: 70 percent we learn in the job, 20 percent in social interaction with one another and 10 percent in the context of formal further training. 30 years have passed since Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger first published this insight in their book “The Career Architect Development Planner”, based on studies by the US Center for Creative Leadership, a global provider of executive education. Many found this so convincing that the 70-20-10 model is still in use in many companies throughout the world today.

But – how useful can such a model still be today? A lot has changed in the last three decades in the working world, and digitization in companies, in particular, is progressing highly dynamically.

What’s important here: previously, the model referred primarily to the development of managers. This does not mean that it is completely irrelevant for lower or middle management employees. Today’s studies, however, would take into account the entire company structure and the entire workforce. With the keyword of digitization in mind, this means that an update of learning models and personnel development is needed. Fortunately, that already exists.

The Update

In 2017, Training Industry Inc, an information portal for the continuing education industry in the USA, conducted a study with around 960 employees. Colleagues also wanted to know where employees learn the most today: at work, in the social sector or in in-service training? The result: With the current test persons from the USA they came up with the 55-25-20 formula.
To find out whether this result would also be internationally valid, the research team added further professionals from the USA, UK, India, Singapore and Australia in 2018. Subsequently, the researchers came to an average of 45-27-28, values that also deviate from 55-25-20, but clearly no longer point in the direction of 70-20-10. Thus, 55-25-20 is an average value.
According to their findings, there are significant factors that influence the result:

In particular, people learn on the job

  • when the company is very large.
  • employees have a high average age.
  • team building is very small.

In this instance, social interaction mainly provides for an improved learning experience

  • if the team building is very good.
  • employees have a low average age.

Formal training is then accepted above all,

  • if the companies are smaller.

What can we learn from this? Personnel developers must determine for themselves which formula is right for their own company – or obtain external support from experts.
The good news: the original assumption of the 70-20-10 model can still be seen as the basis for the new findings. What has changed is the proportion of learning sources and how they interact with each other. Much of the learning takes place in the workplace or through social interaction. This is nothing new and also no reason to concentrate exclusively on these two sources of learning, especially not at the expense of formal training. Thus, the study also comes to the conclusion that in-service training is the key to maximizing learning outcomes from the other two sources – especially in times when knowledge is growing faster but also devaluing faster than ever before.

And: Effective further training for the working world of tomorrow has long been more than just classroom learning. Digitization and the current state of the art enable many exciting interactive formats today, from e-learning to blended learning web-based training to serious games, audiocast and dialogue simulation. Such solutions encourage curiosity, because in this instance, the user can learn in a relaxed way without the consequences of mistakes. At the same time, he receives immediate feedback on his actions, which leads to self-impacting successes – and in the end is perhaps not so dissimilar to the feedback he receives in interacting with colleagues in the workplace.