Gilbert Boileau
President, Adecco Canada

Let's call it evolution

The workplace is continuously being transformed. And if I take artificial intelligence (AI) as an example, I truly believe that it will help us evolve and shape the new world of work. Despite the alarmist predictions of many as to what the future of work will look like for us humans, I feel that we will all be better for it.

Let’s face it, every generation has introduced disruptive technologies that have allowed us to be more productive. If we reflect on the past for examples of varied reactions to new technology, we can find many. Though I could easily reference the Industrial Revolution some 250 years ago — when mechanized machines were first put to work and experts of the day discussed future unemployment rates of factory workers — let's instead look at the IT world of the 1970s and 1980s. A time when information systems were getting out of the “raised floor” rooms and entering into departments. Technological pessimists warned that thousands of clerical jobs would be lost and that unemployment would rise. Here we are, over 40 years later, and are yet to see the predicted decimation of our workforce. The technological optimists, on the other hand, predicted that we were supposed to be totally paperless by the mid-nineties — I’m still waiting!

My point is that the reality concerning the outcome of a technological breakthrough has always been in between what the optimists and pessimists have predicted. What seems to be a breakthrough is more often the sum of incremental changes that look like a breakthrough, yet is actually the result of a number of coinciding developments that create a hospitable environment for something new. While AI may look like a revolution, its origins lie in “expert” systems from the end of the 1980s and "machine learning" systems of the 1990s. These developments were all made possible by the availability of cheaper and greater processing power, the internet, the advent of mobile devices and the ability to share more of our data than ever before.

Given its history, I argue that AI will continue to develop, but this process will be much slower than either the optimists or pessimists predict. In other words, for better or worse, we will see an evolution, but not the revolutionary, life-changing age of AI. Besides, we are already in contact with AI every day — from everything you see on Facebook to optimizing your car travel with Waze. You may not even be aware that it also ties into many of the customer service interactions you have. AI is already pervasive. It’s certainly made our lives better, but hasn’t fundamentally changed our purpose.

In this edition of Lēad magazine,

Mya Systems examines how AI makes us better by describing how it can make recruiting more powerful and customer-service-oriented, while contextere tells us about using AI to augment the capabilities of light industrial workers. To round out this discussion, Discount Car and Truck Rentals describes the introduction of reservation Kiosks that support their customers in a new way.

These articles offer a vision of the future where new technology augments the worker’s tasks for the better, but it’s important to consider that it can also cause short-term struggles. To examine this, Piccolo Heath LLP highlights some legal implications that come with the introduction of new technology in the workplace, while Raufoss Technology Canada describes how they created a successful training program to offset a talent shortage at their automated plant.

Finally, our contributors zero in on workplace trends with an eye to the future. Professionals at the top of their respective fields offer their vision of the future, with an HR professional examining forward-thinking retention strategies and an engineering recruiter looking at the future of recruitment in his field. Then, two articles describe on-the-ground trends and opportunities of the new world of work, with Versature discussing the trends that are reshaping the way we work, and Business Sherpa Group identifying new opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

We hope that you enjoy diving into the future of work with us in this edition of Lēad Magazine.

Gilbert Boileau, President, Adecco Canada

Gilbert Boileau

President, Adecco Canada

Gilbert was appointed as Adecco’s President in 2017, following a successful two-year stint as our Regional VP for Québec. He has over 25 years’ experience in the staffing and consulting industries, in a variety of sales and executive leadership roles. He is recognized for his ability to create, support and leverage key business initiatives, and has a passion for growing business that is equal to that of the most driven entrepreneurs. Prior to joining Adecco in 2015, Gilbert held leadership roles with major companies in which: he grew regional offices that became the dominant player in their respective market; acquired, integrated and managed various staffing companies across Canada and the US; and, built and managed successful sales and delivery teams in various markets. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from Université de Sherbrooke.

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