Furniture giant IKEA is taking steps to adapt to the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in customer service. They have started training thousands of call centre workers to become interior design advisors. Since 2021, around 8,500 employees have successfully completed the training, as reported by Reuters.
To handle common customer questions more efficiently, IKEA has introduced an AI customer service bot called Billie. In the past two years, Billie has been able to handle 47% of the queries received by IKEA’s call centres. While AI is taking over repetitive tasks, the company’s goal is to enhance the employability of its workers and create new job opportunities.
Employee Retention Won’t Be Affected
Ulrika Biesert, the Global People and Culture Manager at Ingka Group, emphasized the company’s commitment to ensuring the long-term employability of its co-workers.
By focusing on lifelong learning, development, and reskilling, IKEA aims to equip its employees with the necessary skills to adapt to changing technological landscapes. Biesert stated, “We are dedicated to strengthening co-workers’ employability in Ingka and accelerating the creation of new jobs.”
IKEA’s integration of AI heightens workers’ concerns worldwide about the potential threat of AI replacing human jobs as a recent report from Goldman Sachs speculated that generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, could eliminate up to 300 million jobs. However, Biesert dismissed the notion that there would be a significant reduction in headcount at IKEA.
AI Can Boost Productivity, IKEA Says
IKEA’s optimistic projections are in line with the findings of a survey conducted by Experis, an IT recruitment business. The survey revealed that 54% of employers believe AI technologies will have a positive impact on staff headcount.
Instead of displacing workers, AI integration is anticipated to augment existing roles, enabling employees to focus on more complex and creative tasks while leaving routine inquiries to AI-powered systems. This advancement in AI could also open up new creative job opportunities.
Potential Legal Implications in Working with AI
The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, such as IKEA’s use of AI for customer service, raises questions about potential legal ramifications. While IKEA’s approach to AI adoption has been proactive and mindful of potential legal issues, there are some legal considerations surrounding AI implementation.
One of the primary concerns in AI implementation is data privacy and security. Companies must ensure that customer data collected and processed by AI systems comply with applicable data protection laws. IKEA is likely to have stringent data protection measures in place to safeguard customer information and adhere to data protection legislation.
Another legal aspect is transparency and accountability. AI systems must provide clear explanations for their decision-making processes, especially when they impact individuals’ rights or influence significant outcomes.
IKEA’s AI customer service bot, Billie, likely follows a predefined set of rules and guidelines, ensuring transparency in its responses to customer queries. By maintaining transparency, IKEA reduces the risk of legal challenges related to discriminatory or unethical decision-making by AI systems.
Moreover, employment law considerations arise when implementing AI that may impact the workforce. As IKEA trains its call centre workers to become interior design advisors alongside AI integration, it is essential for the company to adhere to labour laws, ensuring that reskilling initiatives are conducted in compliance with employment regulations and workers’ rights.
While implementing AI does entail legal considerations, IKEA’s proactive approach to these matters suggests that they are taking the necessary steps to mitigate potential legal risks.