We got used to seeing robots as co-workers in production plants, on assembly or packaging lines, in warehouses or logistic facilities. There are robots supporting surgery and healthcare assistance, building activities, and even dangerous tasks in speleological surveys or emergency rescue.

But Artificial Intelligence (AI) has progressed so much, that it is now ready to get into the office and sit at the top desks. In the United States, for instance, some highly promising applications are being leveraged by notable legal firms, where algorithm-based solutions take care of advanced document analysis, due diligence and other deeds, with satisfactory results.

There are AI systems for scheduling and managing staff shifts, as Amazon and Foodora well know. According to Percolata consultants, if AI organised the daily and weekly rotation of sales assistants, a store could improve its business up to 30% thanks to the possibility to correlate data such as customers visits in given timeframes, the performance of single departments and staff members. Don’t forget that, by releasing a quota of their working time, some employees could be dedicated to business development, generating further achievements.

Another new generation application is exemplified by Vera, the robot employed by Ikea for personnel recruitment and also working in Coca-Cola and L’Oreal. With male or female appearance, Vera contacts applicants and interviews them via phone or video calls. Each conversation is about 8 minutes long, then the best candidates are routed to the HR team for follow up and the final selection. The system can scrutinise up to 1,500 people in a single day of work, thus radically saving time and effort in recruitment processes.

Welcoming robots among white collars will require managers and executives to change their competence mix. As some tasks can be automated and delegated, future bosses should mature more soft skills such as negotiation, conflict and talent management abilities. But it will also challenge IT operations since some of the present business-support services will probably need to be redesigned.