The Rise of the Machines

It’s impossible to avoid the “Rise of the Machine” conspiracies, it seems to be the subject of a new book, TV or movie every week. For the business world, automating labour intensive processes and maximising efficiencies make machines an attractive proposition for organisations looking to streamline their workflow. There’s no doubt that AI will impact the recruitment industry as a whole, but what role will it play? Will machines replace us all? Of course not. But we watch with interest whether the industry will see AI as a threat, opportunity, or a distraction.

We’ve now partnered with over 1000 organisations, most of whom occupy an important part of the value chain for their customers. Our message is clear, technology is not intended to replace personal engagement or direct communication – it is a complementary tool. We’re entering an era of the revenge of the analogue. It never went away in the executive search industry, with trusted personal relationships the fundamental basis of executive search and your most valuable asset as a business. But, with vinyl, paper books and real relationships making a comeback, it’s obvious that this is driving behavioural changes across the whole industry.

Until our cyborg replacements are built, computer systems are limited – they can only really do what we tell them to. And whilst it seems unlikely that AI will wipe out the Executive Search industry any time soon, technology still presents its own challenges for the industry in the short and medium term. Great systems are easy to use, but getting people to embrace technology is more than just finding a nice-looking system. In the search industry, any platform must compliment the process of developing relationships.

It is impossible to stop the advancement of technology and we should all look for opportunities to embrace the best that technology has to offer to make us better at what we do. But it’s a balancing act. Using technology as a springboard to offer a service that differentiates you, without losing sight of the fact that people value the opportunity to connect with people. The importance of relationships as a differentiator will not go away in some industries. Artificial Intelligence and technology will never replace the value added by human interaction, but good use of technology can augment your relationships. So, don’t think about technology as a replacement for relationships, let those who do not value relationships worry about their roles being replaced by technology. Instead, focus your energy on seeking out the value technology can bring to make you more efficient and effective, allowing you to focus and invest in those key relationships.

So, whilst it seems unlikely that machines replace us all, at the bottom of every market there is a race to the bottom, where the only differentiator is price. This supply chain lead approach is still not at immediate risk of being replaced by technology, but they’ll be first to fall victim in the rise of the machines. As service providers come under pressure they will attempt to push themselves up the value chain, eroding the market share of mid-market vendors. Instead, look for opportunities to leverage technology to differentiate your business rather than viewing AI as a threat.