Tony Ulwick is the pioneer of Jobs-to-be-Done theory, the inventor of the Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI) process, and the founder of the strategy and innovation consulting firm Strategyn. He is the author of “JOBS TO BE DONE: Theory to Practice” (IDEA BITE PRESS) and “What Customers Want” (McGraw-Hill) and numerous articles in Harvard Business Review and Sloan Management Review.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, warns Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. On the one hand, we have the potential to “raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world,” and on the other, we have the possibility that it will “yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets.”
The Artificial Intelligence race, as we are seeing, is increasing competitive pressure – across businesses, industries, and even nations. CB Insights reports that corporate giants like Google, IBM, Yahoo, Intel, Facebook, Apple and Salesforce are competing to acquire private AI companies, with Ford, Samsung, GE, and Uber emerging as new entrants.
We are witnesses to the birth of the AI world, one that challenges our existing mindset, our traditions and values, and the very nature of work itself. There are reasons to be apprehensive, as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking describe a bleak world of robotic warfare, in which we humans become prey for lethal autonomous weapons. That said, for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on productive uses of AI.
Jobs to be Automated
The activities most susceptible to automation are physical ones in highly structured and predictable environments, as well as data collection and processing, according to the McKinsey Global Institute:
In the United States, these activities make up 51 percent of activities in the economy, accounting for almost $2.7 trillion in wages. They are most prevalent in manufacturing, accommodation and food service, and retail trade. And it’s not just low-skill, low-wage work that could be automated; middle-skill and high-paying, high-skill occupations, too, have a degree of automation potential. As processes are transformed by the automation of individual activities, people will perform activities that complement the work that machines do, and vice versa.
So what does this mean for the future of work? What functions and industries are susceptible? In What to Do When Machines Do Everything Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring describe the jobs that will likely be automated first:
Competing on AI
Companies will inevitably replace structured jobs like the ones above with AI robots. Similar to my thoughts on IoT, I believe that, to succeed, AI solutions must get a job done better and/or more cheaply.
But how will they compete against each other? We will see the battle of the bots across every industry. How will Siemens‘ AI compete against GE‘s AI? They will compete on Jobs to be Done.
This means that all AI developers will eventually see the wisdom in Jobs-to-be-Done Theory and these 6 basic tenets:
- People buy products and services to get a “job” done.
- Products that win in the marketplace help customers get a job done better and/or more cheaply.
- A job-to-be-done is stable over time, making it an attractive unit of analysis.
- Understanding the Job-to-be-Done provides a new avenue for understanding customer needs.
- A Job-to-be-Done is functional and has emotional and social jobs associated with it.
- A Job-to-be-Done is always a process (to make progress).
Interestingly enough, here’s how MGI did their analysis around 2000 distinct work activities:
The Role of Marketing
Marketers must adjust and lead the company in this new direction. Numerous post-mortems of failed innovations provide a clear path forward for marketers. Rather than simply ask customers about their needs, marketers need to focus on jobs and outcomes. In this new paradigm the focus is not on the customer, it is on the job you are hired to perform. The job and the job-completion process is the new path for creating and communicating customer value. This new orientation is summarized by three fundamental marketing questions:
- What job does (or will) the customer hire us to perform?
- What are the steps for completing this job?
- What outcomes does the customer seek to achieve at each step along the way?
In addition, knowing precisely what outcomes are underserved provides developers and engineers the target they need to apply AI to problems that matter most.
With insight into how customers measure value, creating it becomes measurable and predictable.