John McCarthy coined the term Artificial Intelligence in 1956 followed by Alan Turing who postulated about AI-based machines emulating human beings and being able to think. Seventy years later this capability of “thinking like humans” is still in the future though there have been rapid advances in this field. AI-powered machines still cannot pass the Turning test which is the ability to understand the context. Still, there were apprehensions and that artificial intelligence may replace human beings and contribute to rising unemployment.
For enterprises that would be ideal since they do not have to put up with the vagaries and inconsistencies of human behavior, a rising wage bill, and low productivity. Smart machines would work 24×7. That has not become a reality. Instead, wiser heads have roped in artificial intelligence to improve workspace, automate routine tasks and free humans to do what humans do best and thus achieve better productivity. How artificial intelligence helps realize this goal?
The simplest thing we come across every day: the website Chatbot
Most websites you come across feature an AI chatbot popup. Prior to chatbots, visitors could get information by dialing a number, by emailing or by using the website form and all these steps entailed delay.
The AI bot is admittedly limited in the questions it can answer but it does free business owners or their staff from having to pick up phones only to answer routine questions. A survey shows that chatbots can increase conversions and profitability by 69%. This is just a whiff of what AI has in store for improving workplaces.
Repetitive time-consuming tasks
Take a look at a typical office and a typical office worker. Most of the time is spent on repetitive, routine tasks such as, for example, checking email, sorting them, and segregating the ones to respond to. An organization could receive hundreds of emails and a worker could spend the better part of the morning simply reading and trashing mails of little worth. AI takes over this task and picks emails. The employee can now use his mind power to do something constructive, positive, and innovative for the organization.
This is just one task AI can do. It can schedule meetings. It can record conversations and possibly transcribe it to text that can be printed or stored digitally. Zoom already has this feature. Valuable brainpower can now be devoted to tasks that require human intelligence. Employees who are bored with routine stuff can take on challenges and feel empowered. They will interact better with colleagues and the collective mind will spawn even better ideas for the company’s progress.
Language is one of the greatest barriers to global business. A sales executive may wish to talk with a buyer in Brazil and discuss it with a supplier based in China. You may employ people with different nationalities and intra-office communications take a hit. In both cases, you can trust AI to provide instantaneous language translations. The executive accomplishes the task and feels happy about it. Employees within the office communicate better with each other.
Find the right employees and you have the right assets in place. Unfortunately, the entire process of reviewing resumes, screening candidates, interviews and onboarding is prone to miscalculations and errors of human judgment.
This is where AI can prove to be a boon. It can, for example, be incorporated into the recruitment solution to scan thousands of resumes and pick the most likely candidates. It can be used to creating content that will elicit responses from the most suitable candidates. AI-based bots can conduct primary interviews and shortlist candidates based on a set of predefined parameters.
Enterprises that use artificial intelligence in HR functions can keep track of and measure employee performance so that rewards and promotions go to the right candidates. With the right set of people in place, you have a happy workplace where people collectively and individually use their brainpower for the progress of the business.
Then there is another area: unequal work distribution. Some people carry a heavier workload and some departments are understaffed. Your AI developer can come up with solutions to monitor all these and iron out kinks.
How to do things better and avoid friction
Friction arises in workplaces due to various reasons. One is that a routine, repetitive task that one employee must handle is delegated to another who considers it an imposition. Remove the cause and you remove friction. Let AI solutions take care of routine tasks. This is one thing. Another typical scenario in offices is that not everyone is equally skilled, talented, dedicated, or effective at what they do.
This is where AI-based solutions can track and monitor the performance of each employee, detect anomalies and lacks and then come up with solutions to address shortcomings in individuals. In a way, it is a leveler. It raises confidence levels in under-skilled employees while helping those already up to speed to accelerate even more while being thankful to the AI solution.
Data, analytics, and decisions
An entire team must work on data and analytics in order to derive actionable intelligence. Even then, managers must take one of several possible decisions and for that, they may rely on colleagues or subordinates. If proved wrong that leads to recriminations. If right, the manager gets the credit but then there always is doubt if the decision is the right one. AI takes the guesswork out of decision making.
Take a solution like Microsoft Dynamics that not only analyzes data and provides visual representation but also its AI decision-maker that recommends a possible set of actions. Instead of a manager and his team scratching their heads on making sense of data they now only need to work together on making the right decision. It is things like these that will help to increase global GDP by 20% by 2030 according to a PwC study.
Are employees comfortable and at ease?
The Millenials work best when they have the freedom to work the way they want. Not everyone can find comfort in the same workspace. Some may fidget because of ergonomics. Some may find air conditioning too low or too high. The proximity of other colleagues may be a factor. How do you monitor and assess all these variables in order to know if your workforce is at ease and can focus their minds on work rather than on physical discomfort?
There are ways to incorporate sensors with AI and study variables. Comfort and ease do matter and if you can provide a better ecosystem your workforce thrives. Comfort, from another angle, also means how well one employee gets on with colleagues, seniors, and the organization’s policies.
AI to reassure and help
Employees engaged in routine and repetitive tasks know they are replaceable and harbor innate feelings of insecurity that in turn can make them feel less committed. Develop AI solutions that take over repetitive tasks and empower your employees to contribute to their skills and knowledge.
Take it a step further and use an AI assistant you can get developed by AI developers to provide them assistance in their task and you can be sure you have a reassured workforce that will work with more enthusiasm.