People-first approach needed in AI era


Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence can be a force for exceptional business progress, but could also cut jobs, impacting a multitude of workers and their families. Instead of cutting heads, organisations should be empowering employees with technology to become more valuable.

This is according to Johan Steyn, technologist, management consultant, Chair of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) Gauteng Chapter and Chair of the IITPSA Special Interest Group in AI and Robotics.

“Organisations need to consider how they can simultaneously improve efficiencies and their bottom line, while also empowering the people they have,” he says.

“Every business should have a roadmap for using these new technologies,” he says. “They should not approach adoption as a tick box exercise without thinking through whether AI is the right technology to solve the business problem at hand. Organisations need to start with the business problem and later consider what technology addresses it.”

Steyn says many organisations look to automate primarily to cut the headcount. “This is ethically wrong, but also fails to consider future growth plans, when experienced staff may be needed. Digital transformation should always be a people-first journey.”

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