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Never underestimate the human touch

Developments around AI are phenomenal but technology in the workplace is no substitute for humans

Technology Unsplash/Charanjeet Dhiman
Human customer relations remain critical in an age of bots and other technologies

Increased use of technology and automation is expected to displace 85 million jobs by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum. That’s almost the entire population of Germany.

This replacement of humans with machines is nothing new. It happened during the Industrial Revolution when innovative farming equipment replaced horses and humans.

But the latest Fourth Industrial Revolution was accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic as companies tried to maintain social distancing and keep operating costs low. 

Studies revealed the pandemic caused businesses to implement digitisation plans in 10 days, and not 10 months as they had initially planned.

While accelerating the speed of digital implementation was important, it quickly became obvious that going faster is not the complete answer. 

Even though I have always been results-oriented, not only in my entrepreneurial ventures, but also in my non-profits and charitable organisation, I still hesitate whenever technology gives me an opportunity to cut costs at the expense of human labour. 

I’m not against technology. I think some of the developments around artificial intelligence are phenomenal. I was half-tempted to try out the new Chat GPT for this column.

But what I’ve found is that technology is no substitute for the human touch.

You can take the money you spend on a customer relations manager and put it into a bot to give people quick answers to their questions.

However, when you put a talented, capable human into that position, it adds much better value. It provides that human interaction that people are now craving –another consequence from the pandemic. 

While technology can make our workplaces more efficient and our homes lighter and warmer, we still need more peaceful, kinder, positive and optimistic people. That is why my non-profit and charitable work focuses on helping humans through positive psychology and drama therapy.

And that is why I believe that one of the biggest opportunities we have in these post-pandemic years is to make our businesses more human and less robotic.

This spans different departments, from customer and internal communications, to how we speak with other stakeholders, and so on.

I don’t think robots will take over. You can’t have robots without humans. When the intelligence of robots increases, so does the intelligence of human beings.

Technological advancements sit at the heart of the New Kuwait Vision 2035, and my country has already made giant steps toward adopting innovation across sectors and industries.

It is my hope that we will also be developing our human resources in parallel to developing our digital services and products in order to create a well-rounded society and economy.

Sheikha Intisar AlSabah is founder of Intisars, Ebbarra, Alnowair, Bareec and the Intisar Foundation

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