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Technological developments, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), are reducing the need for human-intensive work in some areas and are expanding the possibilities for innovation. Organizations that are designed to leverage these technologies can gain a competitive advantage by increasing productivity and redeploying people to innovative new opportunities.
A first step in designing an organization that leverages the power of AI and other emerging technologies is to determine which activities can be automated using technology and which are better executed by people. This can be determined by assessing the degree to which the activity is characterized by uncertainty. Activities with low levels of uncertainty are highly routinized and are not likely to vary over time, such as recording financial transactions into a database. These types of activities are relatively easier to automate using technology. Activities with high levels of uncertainty are likely to vary with environmental conditions, such as implementing a new marketing campaign. These activities are more difficult to automate because the conditions the organization may face in the future are difficult to predict.