Curious about how AI technology might change your job? The NYT offers a glimpse at how algorithms are changing traditional roles. In retail, fashion buyers who are normally tasked with making purchasing decisions, are increasingly using algorithms to do the task. These algorithms make fashion decisions and predict the next big trend, a task normally associated creative geniuses. With so much consumer data, predicting trends and stock levels is left to the machines, no intuition needed.
“Retailers adept at using algorithms and big data tend to employ fewer buyers and assign each a wider range of categories, partly because they rely less on intuition.
At Le Tote, an online rental and retail service for women’s clothing that does hundreds of millions of dollars in business each year, a six-person team handles buying for all branded apparel — dresses, tops, pants, jackets.”
The result is two-fold: the industry is using fewer buyers in the decision-making process and retailers are increasingly hiring people who can “stand between machines and customers.” The article notes that there are plenty of areas where automation can’t do the job. Negotiating with suppliers, assessing fabric transparency, and styling all need a human touch.
Instead of replacing all the humans, algorithms are changing how we work. As a result, future roles (and managers) will demand employees who understand understand how to use algorithms to make decisions that improve the final product, while also understanding the limitations of the technology.
In the future of work (which is already here and we need a better phrase), we’re going to need a lot more of these employees.