The rise of artificial intelligence has sparked discussions about its potential impact on outsourcing and taking over standard office jobs. Many wonder whether AI can completely replace outsourcing and will be fully able to take on multi-faceted roles like virtual assistants, data analysts, and digital marketing managers.
- When will AI be able to take on more than just compartmentalized tasks that are boxed in?
- When will we be able to trust it with open-ended tasks that don’t have right answers?
- How does morality fit in?
- Can AI ever have the full context of a business’s institutional knowledge?
For example, there are no good tools out there that can take a completely “trash” Excel file, understand it in terms of your business context, analyze it for the key points your CEO needs, and keep track of your key metrics over time. It’s just not there, and even if it does get here, I’m currently a bit skeptical about the potential for any AI system to do this. Or maybe I’m just too protective of my current area of business. With what has been happening with graphic designers and paralegals, can any role be safe, especially traditionally outsourced ones?
In this article, we’ll explore the current capabilities of AI and its evolving role in the outsourcing landscape, when/if the machines might take over, and when you should call the terminator.
The Power of AI in Automation
We already have pretty good tools that can already automate many roles that were once full-time jobs; however, they’re segmented and cannot take on today’s complete roles just yet.
Data Entry Professionals
These tools are already pretty great at automating repetitive and rule-based tasks. But with generative AI and its ability to process vast amounts of data, learn from patterns, and eventually make informed decisions, could an AI be built to be functional enough to take on a full-time role? Would you even want it to?
How an AI Virtual Assistant Could Do Better Than an Outsourced Talent
Why would you even want to switch from using outsourced talents to going fully AI?
Cost Reduction: Of course. AI-powered automation can lower labor costs by replacing human workers with efficient AI systems. This helps businesses achieve higher productivity and efficiency while reducing expenses.
Improved Accuracy and Quality: Machines make fewer copy/paste and “being tired” mistakes. Period. We, humans, cannot compete, sadly.
Scalability and Flexibility: AI offers scalability, allowing businesses to adapt to fluctuating demands. With outsourced talents, you many times need to keep them engaged and paid even when there’s not a lot of work going around. An AI virtual assistant could be turned on/off when you needed it.
24/7 Availability: AI systems can operate continuously, providing round-the-clock service. This eliminates time zone limitations and reduces the need for shift-based operations from outsourcing hubs like the Philippines.
Why AI Can’t Takeover | Reason #1: Human Expertise
While AI offers valuable automation capabilities, there’s no replacement for human expertise. Tasks involving complexity, contextual understanding, and human judgment still require people and probably always will. Would AI ever be able to be an expert at strategic decision-making and nuanced customer interactions? Maybe, but definitely not for a long long time.
Why AI Can’t Takeover | Reason #2: Trust and Human Interaction
Outsourcing often involves building trust-based relationships. Human communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills are vital in establishing and maintaining these relationships. AI lacks emotional intelligence and empathy, which are key in certain aspects of outsourcing.
A lot of people currently don’t trust AI, mostly due to wrong information coming from it. When AI does reduce its problems in this area, will people trust AI more than their friend? Their partner? No.
Why AI Can’t Takeover | Reason #3: Ethics
AI systems operate based on predefined algorithms and data. This means bias, big time. Now over time, you could train AI to have the same ethics as your business, but it’s much easier to hire someone with a good moral compass who won’t go against your business morals. A lot of business decisions involve sensitive information and privacy concerns that require human judgment and ethical considerations. AI currently sucks at this and needs to have its hand held. It won’t ever be perfect, but I guess neither are people.
Why AI Can’t Takeover | Reason #4: Institutional Knowledge
Will an AI virtual assistant ever be able to see and hear everything in the office? How can it know that Karen is going vegan and needs to have a vegetarian meal for your catering event next week? What does that data column in your Excel file really mean? When Adam says “latte”, does he really mean macchiato? At the business outing, can the AI know not to book that hotel again because of the bedbugs?
These are simple examples of how many little things make up a business as a living organism. Letting an AI loose into the business wild would probably create mistakes as its context for what things truly mean for your business is lost.
Final Decision: AI Can’t Replace Outsourcing, At Least Not For Another 20 Years
Hopefully, I won’t need to eat my hat here if I’m wrong reading this by 2053, but a complete replacement of outsourcing with AI is unlikely in the next 10–20 years due to the importance of human expertise, trust-building, and ethical considerations. This doesn’t mean to say that it won’t get close to being able to take on some full-time roles, but I still think that the most probable outcome is that companies will still hire outsourced professionals who use AI tools to make them more efficient.
The evolving relationship between AI and outsourcing will likely involve a collaborative approach, leveraging the strengths of both AI automation and human workers. As the technology advances, businesses will need to find the right balance that optimizes outcomes and maintains the human touch that people need to feel to do business with one another.
The Future of AI and Outsourcing
At Global Hola, we believe that the future lies in a hybrid approach that combines AI automation with outsourced professionals. The strategy is simple. Use AI to automate the repetitive tasks, data analysis, and provide decision support. Use people to focus on the complex problem-solving, creative thinking, relationship-building, and emotional intelligence tasks.