Keep Your Friends Close and Your AI Closer

5 min read • Mar 27, 2021 • Grant Olsen

First, the bad news: AI technology is coming for American jobs that have traditionally been held by humans. From restaurant cooks to commercial truck drivers, it’s clear that robots are polishing up their resumes and getting ready to talk to HR about an interview.

This scenario is nothing new—but it’s become more pronounced thanks to AI advancements and the fragility of legacy systems exposed by the pandemic.

“Machines have made jobs obsolete for centuries,” explains a business report from Time. “The spinning jenny replaced weavers, buttons displaced elevator operators, and the internet drove travel agencies out of business. One study estimates that about 400,000 jobs were lost to automation in US factories from 1990 to 2007. But the drive to replace humans with machinery is accelerating as companies struggle to avoid workplace infections of COVID-19 and to keep operating costs low. The US shed around 40 million jobs at the peak of the pandemic, and while some have come back, some will never return. One group of economists estimates that 42% of the jobs lost are gone forever.”

Now, the good news: AI technology can actually help you to keep your job. That’s right. Rather than relinquish your role to a robot, you can leverage the power of tech solutions to become stronger and more efficient than ever before.

You see, robots have always targeted humans who aren’t progressing. Take the example shared above of elevator operators: those fellows undoubtedly worked hard at their job of moving levers in various elevators so that riders could get to their chosen floors. But in the end, they were nothing more than “lever movers.” Robots noticed this and realized they could do the exact same functions more efficiently—and the jobs were snatched away.

Using AI and Automation to Promote the Human Side of Business

If only those elevator operators had known the secret to beating the robots—delivering a uniquely human experience. What does this mean? You should let the robots handle the menial parts of your job (like pushing a lever) and use your distinct personality to provide services that a robot can’t.

Here’s how elevator operators of old might have warded off their robotic competition. First, they could have acquired a simple machine that moved the elevator’s lever up and down. They could have then focused on delivering a memorable experience for guests. Perhaps they could have made balloon animals for kids. Or they could have spent the ride time recommending the best restaurants in town. Either way, they would’ve been doing something the machines couldn’t.

So what are the “human” aspects of your job that can be developed while a robot handles the low-level stuff? Customer service is a good place to start: doing the little things that delight your customers, such as launching new products or going above and beyond to resolve their concerns.

“A small business’s biggest advantage is providing a unique customer experience that larger competitors can’t replicate, but business owners and operators wear many hats and have limited time to deliver on that potential,” says a technology analysis from Forbes. “Software automation promises to give small business owners more time for the inherently human aspects of running their businesses, which magnifies and multiplies their advantage. When you consider that there are almost 30 million small businesses in the US, the compounding effect of automation could be truly profound. In fact, one of the software-as-a-service movement’s…outcomes could be unlocking the latent potential of American mom-and-pop shops and helping them thrive as never before.”

See? Robots have the ability to either threaten our livelihoods or “unlock our latent potential.” And we should wholeheartedly choose the second option!

Automated Tools to Consider

Each business is unique, so your ideal automation solution won’t necessarily be the same as those for the other entrepreneurs in your network. You just need to review your responsibilities and find the best ways to gain efficiency.

Popular automation tools include:

  • Twilio: a communication platform that sends your messages via email, text, SMS, chat, phone, video, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp
  • Yoast SEO: provides strategies for improving SEO for your websites, blogs, and landing pages
  • ActiveCampaign: email marketing and CRM tools to help you reach your customers
  • Slack: a simple interface that allows messaging, video chatting, and sharing files
  • Sunrise: a bookkeeping service that handles your expense tracking, financing reporting, invoice management, tax assistance, and digital payments
  • Trello: a project management platform that keeps you more organized so that you can reach goals faster
  • Grammarly: a spelling and grammar checker with tools to make your communications as clear and accurate as possible

Put AI to Work Today

Did you see any tempting tools on that list? If so, find a way to incorporate them into your operations as soon as possible. If not, start looking for a better solution. The robots are out there. And they want to help you be better at your job—or they want to steal it away from you. Ultimately, the outcome is up to you.

Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.