Getting to the bottom of workplace automation
12 December 2018
Kris Fitzgerald, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NTT Data Services
In an interview with Business Reporter’s Alastair Greener, NTT DATA Services’ Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Kris Fitzgerald discussed automation and technology within the workplace, focusing on topics such as workplace automation, artificial intelligence (AI) bias, and machine processing.
Fitzgerald noted in his discussion that companies are attempting to bridge the gap between customers and themselves with “faster and more effective” approaches. His solution to the problem includes smarter artificial intelligence and automation. Technology has grown drastically within a short period of time, explains Fitzgerald, and its ability to understand human speech has surpassed humans itself. Humans understand 85 per cent of what other humans say, but machines understand 87 per cent. This accuracy in machines creates faster channels between companies and customers.
Now that technology has advanced to a more “powerful” state, companies are able to change their business models and practices to better serve the personal needs of both their customers and employees. Fitzgerald emphasises that automation has allowed organisations to better train and upskill their employees to fit the industry’s new model. When asked about the role that automation plays with layoffs in the country, Fitzgerald acknowledged that organisations who continue to develop and teach their employees avoid cuts.
Fitzgerald concluded the interview discussing artificial intelligence bias. This idea derives from search engines and feeding visitors information. Before, search engines listened to consumers and regurgitated what they thought. Now, search engines offer a less biased landscape – but according to Fitzgerald, it may be impossible to make automated system entirely free from bias. He used the example of a conversation he had with an employee at the United Nations, where they discussed individual countries having their own forms of bias that are hard to escape from. He said, “If you are talking about a country, [bias] is possible because the cultural norms of that country are common.”