During the industrial revolution, there was an underlying fear about machines taking jobs away from humans.

Today, with the emergence of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots, that fear seems to have increased. Sectors such as finance, health, retail, and law are slowly adopting AI and chatbots into their everyday functions. It is thus understandable that employees are starting to wonder whether chatbots will take over their jobs, especially in the fields of telemarketing, retail, and customer services, where chatbots are the most present. And the fear is not entirely unfounded: Chatbots will kill jobs — menial jobs — but they will also contribute to the appearance of new jobs and activities.

Presence and automation

So, how will chatbot kill jobs? And is it as bad a thing as everyone is making it out to be? Chatbots will be increasingly present in businesses and will automate tasks that do not require skill-based talents. A study by Forrester shows that one in four (25 percent) of today’s jobs will likely be impacted by AI technologies (which includes intelligent chatbots) by 2019.

Sectors such as customer service and the finance industry are examples where chatbots are already present, as instant messaging has become the conversational norm between clients and businesses. Customers who are searching for a quick answer or have a more or less precise idea of what they want can get immediate responses and actions via intelligent chat. They no longer need to waste minutes or hours waiting for a human response.

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In the finance industry, some banks are automating their chat messaging and alerts so that you no longer have to pass through a human to get information. According to a survey by Econsultancy, 45 percent of financial service firms are focused on making the customer experience as relevant and precise as possible, and automation can help with that.

In fact, artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role in this industry, as 32 percent of financial firms have adopted the new technology to help them make better decisions and be more productive, according to a survey by Narrative Science. Certain banks and traders now rely heavily on AI (AlphaSense, Cerebellum Capital, Sentient Investment Management are firms that come to mind). But there is a bright side to this, if companies are flexible. Those that understand they need to evolve and adapt to new technologies will be able to quickly replace lost jobs by placing talented individuals where they can focus on business activities that require more creativity and human input.

Speed and relevancy

Ultimately, chatbots can support and complement a business. It is widely known that bots are faster and more precise than humans at accomplishing some tasks. Human errors can be easily reduced with the use of intelligent chatbots. Bots can also remember past actions and offer accurate, personal, and rapid service to multiple clients at the same time. Gartner estimates that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships with enterprises without interacting with a human.

It is also important to acknowledge that chatbots can help teams avoid being overwhelmed by requests coming in from all sides. A study by Lithium technologies found that 53 percent of customers who asked a question on Twitter expected the brand to respond within an hour. Having a chatbot that supports the teams by answering questions 24/7 would alleviate that pressure.

Efficiency

Bots can respond to a billion demands and pieces of information at once (in theory), making a process not only faster but also more cost-efficient. It is thus no wonder the chatbot market is developing tools to help businesses grow and manage their activities more efficiently. Companies want to find ways to help employees be more productive and to save on overhead. This may be a bit difficult to swallow if it means reducing staff, but it also opens a new industry for tech developers who are ready to work alongside new technologies.

According to a study by Modis, the tech industry will grow to 12 percent by 2024. A 2017 LinkedIn study confirms this growth, showing that businesses and activities in the tech industry — along with health care, oil, and energy sectors — have a growing need for talent.

So where does this leave us? It is time to embrace the new era and start working closely with artificial intelligence and chatbots. Chatbots are already ever-present in various sectors, offering precision, automation, scalability, and efficiency. Yes, they will inevitably kill jobs, but as long as industries move quickly and are flexible, they will be able to place talented people in positions to supervise, maintain, and work with chatbot tools.

In the long run, markets will be able to move forward at a more productive pace when humans and technology work together.

Nicolas Fayon is the CEO of Heek, an automated website builder.

Above: The Machine Intelligence Landscape This article is part of our Artificial Intelligence series. You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape featuring 288 companies by clicking the image.