The Rise of the Machines (my interview by CIO Institute)
I have recently been asked by CIO Institute to give my opinion on the emergence of automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence in multiple IT topics (including CyberSecurity).
Even though the objective was not to focus only on CyberSecurity, I found it interesting to try to define my vision on this topic. I keep thinking that you learn a lot when you step out of your “comfort zone”… 🙂
Meantime, enjoy reading my article below, and feel free to send me your comments!
NB: Thanks a lot to Stephanie!
The Rise of the Machines: Ensuring that the Human Element is Never Lost
The Global CIO Institute interviewed Olivier Daloy, VP of CIX-A’s on how firms can utilise the best of both worlds as people and technology develop. Read the interview below.
Published: Mar 16, 2022Written by: Stephanie Thilagalingam and Olivier Daloy
Q: As firms look to transform their businesses, what must firms do to ensure that they stay true to their people?
OD: In my honest opinion, they must communicate regularly on what is at stake and what is the expected timing of the transformation. The biggest negative impact of communication comes from a lack of it. Firms must disclose their strategy and engage their people, avoid being shy or reserved to do so. They must clarify what are the expected gains, not only for the company, but also for each employee, both at corporate and personal level. Lastly, they must balance their ambition, adopt the right pace. Avoid going too fast as you will lose your employees but at the same time, avoid going too slow, as this will make you lose your competitive advantage.
Q: It was on the news recently that robots were running cafes at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Are we seeing a shift towards machines being trusted to carry out responsibilities that were once meant for humans? Would this shift mean that more jobs will become redundant in the coming years?
OD: I don’t think so, but rather that it simply means that every task that becomes commoditized will sooner or later be replaced by a more value added task. We must be prepared for that, not afraid. We must welcome innovation, but always measure and manage the risks. It’s a very common activity for CISOs.
Q: In your opinion, do you think that firms would prefer to have their workforces completely automated as this then reduces the risks of human error?
OD: Again, it’s more a tradeoff between what can/should be commoditized versus what should remain under human responsibility. Not all workforces will be automated, but every “programmatic” task will definitely be. Keeping low value tasks is not only inducing financial losses, it’s also a huge obstacle for recruitment and retainment of workforces.
Keeping innovation, creativity, social and even political skills is key for many companies. These are all examples of where human workforces may be relevant and bring a lot of value.
Q: Is the human-machine balance achievable? If so, how?
OD: I believe it can, but it’s a moving target. According to many criteria, such as what the available technology can do without making too many mistakes, but also considering ethics, and often the economy as well (not exhaustive). Proper arbitration, based on the risks, enables us to define what must remain a manual action versus what can and should be automated, taking the most benefit out of the added value of human actions.
Q: It is hard knowing what requires automation and what requires people skills. How can firms bridge that gap and be able to identify what truly works for their business?
OD: I believe it usually comes from experimentation. Just like we do in IT, you define a minimum viable project/product (MVP) then you implement a pilot and based on its results you go for a larger rollout. But it should also care for what the users/customers/citizens require/are ready to accept – and of course, legal constraints.
There are various cases where companies thought they could automate much more than what their customers were ready to accept. In some cases, it’s only a matter of taking the challenge at the right time. In others, it’s just a matter of understanding whether there is a use case. Think about autonomous driving but also [Amazon] automated delivery: do you think it’s going to remain a possible idea, an exception or will it be live some day? If you look at science fiction 15-20 years ago, there were a lot of ideas, some of which have come true, others are still not there. We use a lot of chatbots in IT, and we have SIRI and “OK Google”, but we still have keyboards – voice operated IT remains exceptional.
Q: How can we leverage emerging tech to boost productivity and performance and ultimately, allow people and tech to completely align and thrive? What are some ways firms can support this?
OD: Again, my opinion would be that we must start small and grow fast, fail fast but learn faster. This is probably the best way to integrate technology at the right level. We must focus on our pain points, find the right technology to power up our actions. I used to say that I’m not interested in a solution that looks for a problem, but rather for a solution to my problems. I also believe that we must develop the creativity of our people, give them time to think about disruptive ways of addressing their problems – and even incentivise their work/solution. Look at bug bounty: the best way to make people find new ways of hacking into IT assets is, in some way, by leveraging onto gamification/challenge/financial gain. There is no big interest in technical solutions that are not embedded into pragmatic problem solving.
Q: What are some potential risks firms must be on the lookout for when trying to build a harmonious relationship between people and technology?
OD: I believe it’s mostly a matter of trust. Trust from employees that technology is not going to steal their job, which they are afraid of. Also, trust that technology remains under control. For instance, I get questions from C-levels around; are we sure that when managing cybersecurity using machine learning and AI, we still know what we are able to protect against? And finally trust that, at the end of the day, the technology does not bring more risks than it helps to manage. For Amazon, it could be drones falling onto people, impacting their safety, for instance.
Olivier Daloy spoke at the CIO Institute DACH event which ran in February 2022. Daloy is a frequent speaker of the institute so sign up to the community today to interact with him and like-minded people.