We humans have evolved quickly from pre-computer age to the introduction of the geek species that normed into a techie population, and now have an entire Gen Z who’s DNA seems co-mingled with technology. The next gen recipe calls for a dash each of humans and machines. Does any of this matter? It’s just evolution, right? But do machines have people skills? And how does this relate to your business, and your customers?

According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report “The future of the tech industry relies heavily on people skills”. This is fitting with all the hype about machines (via AI) taking on human behavior. Those of us in IT knew the “bear” behind the closed door was the brightest database geek in the company. His productivity was directly correlated with interruptions; of any kind. But productivity resulting from few interactions with others does not foster Emotional Intelligence (EI). How will this change when it comes to humanoids? After all some of them are the bots that interact with your business customers today.

Human hand reaching finger to finger of a non-human hand suggesting AI connectionIf humanoids mirror and match our imperfect behaviors (e.g. selection/judgement) we will automate and proliferate bias. If on the other hand humanoids lack intrinsic human behaviors, we risk avoiding bias by removing all sense of human empathy. If AI quiets the emotional aspect of behavior for humanoids will they own the upper percentile of EI scores, leaving humans to be the statistical bell-ringers? How does the mix of humans and humanoids play into your business culture when it comes to nurturing your customer, employee and community relationships?

Performance Facts listed for Humanoid made to look like a Nutrition Facts ingredient list on a purchased product.In Paul Heltzel’s CIO.com article he points out that related to Culture change in a digital world, “It’s easy to throw new technologies at a problem, but the deep shift that has to occur requires a level of cultural and organizational support that can be challenging to drive and maintain over the long run.” Getting back to the business side of things, it’s first about your business; not IT. The amount of IT you need must only be defined by the actual ROI it can drive.

As business continues to digitally transform, our population will evolve to whatever mix of human and machine seems inevitable. To allay fears this image conjures up, people skills and human empathy need to be first on the list of ingredients baked into the future. When it comes to business the value of people skills and the ability to manage cultural change over time is not replaced by technology.