Pooja Sharma, the Sales Manager of an emerging FinTech firm in Bangalore, faced the daunting challenge of streamlining the revenue practices to keep up with the company’s explosive business growth. Moreover, she was having a hard time adapting to the changing customer demands and expectations. Amidst this scenario, Pooja sought new, dynamic approaches to offer a competitive pricing without having to lose out on revenues.
In today’s rapidly-changing job landscape, the roles and responsibilities of a middle manager are now greater than ever. This explains why senior leaders along with mid-level executives are increasingly relying on a diverse set of technology-based tools and techniques to enable automated/semi-automated decision making as well as higher revenue generation.
Among other emerging technologies, AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) have emerged as the indispensable part of modern business operations; especially in critical sectors such as finance, legal and sales. Thanks to data driven AI, sales, finance and business development professionals have access to real-time insights, and can better identify opportunities, make more informed decisions and ultimately accelerate the business growth.
As chronicled in many reports, adoption of algorithm systems in businesses has increased in recent years. But, one of the less talked about aspect of how data-driven algorithms are addressing the middle management issues in particular.
Middle management in the age of AI
Advancements in AI seemingly pose a great threat to middle managers, sparking discussions on if middle management will become virtually extinct. However, layers of management exist for a reason and their jobs can’t be replaced. It’s often been observed that organizations have faced a crisis following the loss of experienced middle managers who could have foreseen the impending situation. Of course, AI and machine learning can do tasks on par with humans, sometimes even better in terms of accuracy and timeliness. But, they can’t take over the jobs humans do, just not yet.
On the contrary, AI-based algorithms can add more value to their work, enabling them to achieve their goals in less time. The skills and specs offered by middle managers are unmatched, and with their expertise combined with the accuracy of algorithms can truly strengthen the foundation of a company. Many decisions require insight that goes beyond what AI can derive from data sets alone. And, that’s why human insights are irreplaceable. They can apply their knowledge, experience and cognitive skills to such critical business decisions as well as practices. Hence, it’s safe to say that AI and other emerging technologies can be leveraged to complement/support rather than replace middle managers.
AI can take the stress of middle managers by performing dull, repetitive tasks
Middle managers are referred to as the ‘glue’ that holds an organization together. They work as the bridge between the senior leaders and the entry-level employees. According to data released by Great Place to Work over the span of six years, from 429 publicly traded companies and more than 450,000 employee responses, middle managers are the most valuable asset of any entity, irrespective of its size and industry. However, it is also the middle managers that have massive work. From planning and executing corporate strategies to organizing and redefining business goals, their responsibilities are endless.
Industry estimates suggest that managers across the hierarchy spend almost half their time on repetitive but important tasks, such as administration coordination. This is where AI and machine learning comes into the picture. In some sectors, in particular, AI’s contribution can be huge. For instance, news agency Associated Press increased its quarterly earnings reporting to approximately 4,400 from just 300 with the help of AI-powered software robots. In doing so, the journalists got more time to file more detailed and interpretative stories. Similarly, in any corporate setting, AI can take over dull, repetitive tasks, thus allowing the middle managers to focus on more important work. This, in turn, would push their productivity and help them hone their skills set.
In today’s increasingly digital era, AI’s invasion is inevitable. But, this doesn’t have to be bad news. Especially for middle managers as it can offer them a helping hand and reduce their workload while allowing them to make better business decisions.The author is General Manager, India Operations at Apttus.