EY’s Samir Bedi: AI and humans will coexist

The human race will evolve with the AI to deliver better services for customers.

Artificial intelligence will not replace human workforce, instead, it will coexist with humans to deliver certain tasks for the consumers, according to Samir Bedi, EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader.

Bedi, one of the speakers at the Retail Asia Summit 2023, said that the retail industry should upskill and re-skill in order to work efficiently and productively in the competitive landscape with AI.

“So the reality is, today when you look at it from a workforce perspective, in the retail industry, AI will supplement and do certain tasks that current retail industry retail workers are doing,” he said, “But in order to be able to do this, the most critical aspect around it is to really look at learning for workers, upskilling and reskilling.”

Bedi said that the retail industry is at the epicenter of transformation, emphasizing that the way people live, work and play has changed. He mentioned the need for the retail sector to evolve by focusing on three key elements: being invisible, indispensable, and intimate with customers.

“In our research, we really believe that there are three I’s that the retail industry needs to focus on in delivering a value proposition to its customers, and all of this is in sync with being more customer authentic or creating better customer experiences,” Bedi said.

He talked about the need for retailers to make customers' lives easier, streamlining access to products and simplifying the shopping process. The interconnectedness, he says, hinges on bridging various customer needs into one ecosystem.

He cited an example of a person wanting to lead a healthier life and how the retail industry can be the crucial link connecting various health and wellness needs. The intimacy, according to Bedi, is about building genuine customer relationships that resonate with their purposes.

He emphasized the importance of a skills-based approach instead of task-based and insisted on the need for retail companies to identify competencies and align them with the evolving nature of tasks or jobs. 

Bedi adds, "The reality around learning is that there is no use in learning if there isn't an impetus to apply the knowledge. Focus should be on acquiring new skills, enhancing productivity, improving customer experiences, and ultimately, providing better jobs."

For educational institutions and retail companies, Bedi's advice is to look at the bigger picture, adding that by understanding the changing dynamics of the industry, institutions can develop learning programs that not only offer in-classroom training but also practical experiences that allow on-the-job learning.

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