The CEO of the India-based e-commerce platform Duukan, Suumit Shah, revealed that 90% of the company’s support staff had been replaced with an AI chatbot.
Touting the benefits of this transformative decision, Shah underscored a massive 85% reduction in customer support costs and a vastly improved response time. Historically, the realm of customer support across industries often relied on scripted, pre-formulated responses.
These “copy-paste” jobs, as they came to be colloquially known, became a staple for handling a vast range of customer queries. Shah, in a recent interview with the Washington Post, proclaimed the end of such jobs, emphasizing the advantages of AI-driven chatbots. He stated, “That job is gone. 100 percent,” shedding light on the rapid pace at which automation is taking over.
A CEO who replaced 90% of his support staff with an AI chatbot says copy-paste jobs are gone https://t.co/PAf68WGBds
— Insider Business (@BusinessInsider) October 6, 2023
The Duukan case became even more notable when Shah took to social media, specifically on X (formerly known as Twitter), announcing the layoff of the majority of his support staff in favor of AI. The post quickly went viral, drawing a myriad of reactions, from appreciation for technological adoption to criticisms concerning the manner of the announcement.
Countering the skepticism
However, not everyone viewed this move with admiration or saw it as a testament to the benefits of AI. Many critics voiced concerns over the loss of the human touch in customer interactions. One poignant comment on Reddit highlighted fears of a future dominated by chatbots, posing challenges to problem resolution.
Others speculated about the true nature of the layoffs. One user on X remarked,
“Make no mistake. The support team was laid off here because the business is failing and funding is dry. Not because of AI.”
Nevertheless, Shah remained undeterred, offering insights into the exponential growth of the business since the controversial decision. The company has been able to redirect the funds previously allocated to support staff towards innovation and expansion, suggesting a brighter future.
Broader implications of AI in the job market
Duukan’s drastic shift is but a snippet of the broader narrative of AI’s growing dominance. A Goldman Sachs report recently revealed that around 300 million jobs globally could face disruption due to AI technology. Such numbers, while alarming, also draw attention to the potential for restructuring, innovation, and the creation of new opportunities.
Interestingly, tech stalwarts like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and IBM’s Arvind Krishna maintain a more optimistic view. They believe that while AI will inevitably displace specific jobs, it will concurrently pave the way for newer roles, emphasizing adaptation over resistance.
A glimpse into the future of work
According to Harvard Business School professor Karim Lakhani, AI is bound to revolutionize the way companies function. By drastically reducing the cost of cognition, just as the internet did for information transmission, AI becomes instrumental in setting new business standards. Lakhani draws parallels between the need to understand accounting for business and the emerging necessity to comprehend AI and its implications.
In this evolving landscape, companies will be compelled to foster continuous learning and adaptation to keep pace with technological advancements. Change management, a historically overlooked facet, is predicted to emerge as a vital skill, shaping the DNA of successful organizations.
Suumit Shah’s bold move at Duukan could very well be the harbinger of a new era in business operations. While concerns over the human element being overshadowed by machines are valid, the undeniable benefits of AI cannot be ignored. As businesses globally grapple with the challenge of integrating AI into their workflows, the focus must be on harnessing its potential while ensuring a harmonious blend of human intelligence and machine efficiency.