Most of us interact with Artificial Intelligence (AI) on a daily basis. Despite what the movies might have told us, this doesn’t mean that we’re waving at our robot neighbours or walking our robot dogs (Isle of Dogs anyone?) It simply means that ‘everyday’ AI exists, and it’s optimizing the way we go about our business. Anyone who’s done any of the following has interacted with everyday AI: watched Netflix, bought something off Amazon, used Siri, Alexa, Cortana... you get my point.
If we accept that AI exists in our day-to-day, my next question is: does it exist in our workplace? And is AI optimizing the way we go about our business there too?
The answer is simple: YES.
AI in the workplace is fast becoming the new battlefield on which the war for talent will play out.
Implemented effectively, AI can improve employee productivity, engagement and retention. But there’s a clear readiness gap across organisations. 72% of respondents from Deloitte Insights’ Global Human Capital Trends 2018 see AI adoption as important, but only 31% feel ready to address it. It’s time to understand how AI impacts the workplace today and plan for tomorrow, through knowledge gathering, investigative work and strategy development.
Ever used Microsoft Office 365 or Google G-Suite? Microsoft PowerPoint can auto-populate images and even auto-translate your entire presentation. Google Docs can dictate speech in real time. Microsoft’s new ‘Acronym’ feature helps people understand the plethora of acronyms used within their organisation by using Microsoft Graph to trawl email and documents. Again... you get my point. AI has snuck in.
Just because these everyday examples of AI have snuck in without the majority of the workforce noticing, doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting AI will continue to discretely enter the workplace until robots are walking around and only 6 months later does someone say ‘Hey, when did this arrive?’
There’s a distinct difference between everyday AI and targeted AI in the workplace. A robot would be an example of targeted AI. In my last blog, I talked about other targeted AI technology like Humanyze that monitors individual networks and productivity, and toilet sensors that monitor employee health. Gartner distinguishes between the two types of AI with the following definitions: targeted AI is perceived as a new system with an immediate and dramatic effect. On the other hand, everyday AI is perceived as a new feature with subtle and slow effect.
Currently everyday AI is creeping into the workplace almost unnoticed. In the future, we can expect targeted AI to be there too. But it definitely won’t be sneaking in.
Whilst AI is still only entering the workplace slowly and subtly, it’s high time to prepare for its inevitable explosion.
A few suggestions:
- Status check – understand where AI is being utilised within your organisation. Create an inventory. Create a guide for all employees.
- Practice transparency – share this inventory/guide with the entire organisation. Executive leadership should be well-informed and on board. Employees need to know what their data is being used for and why. (I’m not going to stop talking about this any time soon.)
- Create a roadmap: understand what AI is going to do in your workplace, both the opportunities and risks. Determine what you want to use it for and why. Create a group of advocates in the organisation to champion and communicate this roadmap.
Whatever you choose to do, just start now. Because AI is here – at home and at work.