Two-thirds of managers’ routine tasks will be automated by 2024

Managers must reallocate their time to enable the implementation of AI across the workforce, says Gartner.
24 January 2020

AI is coming for the management. Source: Shutterstock

On those most affected by the rise in automation technologies, we’re often presented a future picture where the ‘worker bees’ take the biggest impact, and implementation is led by the cold, efficiency-seeking hand of corporate management.

The way we talk about the need to comfort and educate those workers around the benefits of a machine-powered era makes the upper echelon sound immune. ‘You won’t lose your jobs; your time will be freed up to spend on more valuable, creative work.’ 

The fact is, the data-driven strategizing, greater precision, higher ROI, and enhanced measurement capabilities of AI will leave no area of the modern corporation unchecked. According to analysts at Gartner, the day-to-day role of management will be significantly disrupted, and perhaps much sooner than we thought. 

“The role of manager will see a complete overhaul in the next four years,” said Helen Poitevin, Research Vice-President at Gartner, as 69 percent of “routine tasks”, such as filling in forms, updating information and approving workflows, becomes ripe for automation.

With the burden of organizational tasks lifted, handled instead by simple, interactive virtual assistants, leaders must expand their responsibilities and influence to focus on improving worker experience, developing worker skills and building organizational competency in the responsible use of AI. 

That outlook may make members of management nervous as question marks hanging over their relevance just a few years down the line, dependent on their ability to adapt to changing demands as necessary.

“A workplace doesn’t just consist of workers. It also features managers who have their own inefficiencies and biases. Introducing AI-powered efficiencies at the top could be just as significant as the pink slips distributed at the bottom,” TechHQ’s David Pring-Mill wrote previously.

“AI can quickly crunch the numbers of voluminous and varied datasets. It can evaluate performances, reallocate resources, and even automatically generate the paperwork for terminations,” he added. “That is a pretty compelling use case.”

Gartner suggests this time will be quickly consumed in ensuring a wholesale transition to the automated workplace goes smoothly – more admin-focused executives will need to become more hands-on. “Application leaders will need to support a gradual transition to increased automation of management tasks as this functionality becomes increasingly available across more enterprise applications,” said Poitevin.

AI fostering diversity in the workplace

This reimagining of job roles over the next several years will reset the employee playing field as the status quo of core skill sets is disrupted across organizations. But it will also open doors for businesses to recruit from a richer talent pool.  

While nearly 75 percent of recruiting heads said “critical” talent shortages will have a major effect on their organizations, AI and other emerging technologies will make work accessible to disabled people, which represent an “untapped pool of critically skilled talent.” 

Gartner estimates that organizations actively employing people with disabilities have 89 percent higher retention rates, a 72 percent increase in employee productivity and a 29 percent increase in profitability. 

By 2023, the firm predicts the number of people with disabilities employed will triple, due to AI and emerging technologies reducing barriers to access: “Some organizations are successfully using AI to make work accessible for those with special needs,” Poitevin said. 

“Restaurants are piloting AI robotics technology that enables paralyzed employees to control robotic waiters remotely. With technologies like braille-readers and virtual reality, organizations are more open to opportunities to employ a diverse workforce.”

Businesses that overlook the potential of technology to foster accessibility and a more diverse workforce will fall behind competitors by 2022, Gartner said.