How Will AI Transform Our Digital Workplace?
Guest blog By Andrew Bourne, CTO of Bolste
How many times have you painstakingly scanned through your emails or searched through folders on your computer looking for that one elusive file you worked on months ago? Probably more than you care to count. In fact, research indicates that on an average, employees spend roughly 25-35 percent of their time looking for information they need to get their jobs done. That’s why the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an exciting new chapter in our evolving digital workplace – it promises to usher in a new era of productivity in our work environments like we’ve never seen before.
While AI has remained a field of academic research for several decades now, it is only in recent years we’ve seen the applications of AI crop up in various industries. That’s because we are finally at a place where compute and processing capabilities, data storage and data analysis technologies are on par with what AI systems demand.
At the same time, our work places too have seen significant changes. Today’s workforce is increasingly remote, mobile and used to receiving actionable information on-demand. That’s why the mushrooming of cloud-based collaboration tools for chat, video conferencing, documentation, project management and more, have been welcome additions into our workplaces as they increase efficiencies. But these tools come with their own set of challenges. Most of them are siloed and do not integrate with existing office applications, which can be quite frustrating. That’s why we are now seeing the emergence of holistic collaboration platforms – digital work hubs – that are designed from the ground-up to take advantage of AI.
So how exactly will AI transform our digital work environments?
AI will enhance human interactions and customer experiences. It will help us streamline processes and help us deliver better, faster and cheaper solutions.
Let’s take chat as an example. If you are chatting with someone about an upcoming business trip, an AI-enabled chatbot could listen in and give suggestions on flight and hotel reservations based on patterns that emerge from your previous travels. Depending on how integrated the platform is with other external websites, it can also make the reservations for you, saving valuable time and resources.
AI can also have tremendous impact on a company’s staffing situation. Say you are working on a large international project with partners in China. An AI-based digital work hub can suggest adding specific employees to the team based on their ability to speak say, Mandarin. Such intuitive recommendations from a smart digital work hub can help the company not only put its best foot forward, but also ensure seamless integration of the global team.
The prescriptive benefits of AI-based platforms go far beyond just making recommendations based on what’s in your system or network. Consider the case of a consultant taking on a new project, but similar to a few he has done in the past. An AI-enabled system will be able analyse the consultant’s past projects and prescribe processes and best practices for successful outcomes. But that’s not all! It can scour the internet to find articles, guides, and even videos that can enhance the success of the project. For example, let’s say the consultant is working with a software company. The AI-based platform can recommend news articles on the biggest trends or latest skills needed in the tech world today, bringing invaluable insight to the consultant’s business and his quality of work.
In the case of the service industry, one of the biggest pain points for customers is the poor quality of service. Let’s say you are calling your internet service provider for loss of connectivity. Chances are you end up talking to two to three people before your issue gets solved. Instead, if the first customer representative worked on an AI-enabled collaborative platform, he would be able to see how similar issues have been solved by others in the past, be far more successful at his own work and also ensure happy customers.
We’ve all see how even a single schedule change can sometimes have cascading effects on our work day. Imagine if the calendar was aware, and capable of rescheduling appointments with others, while maintaining the focus on your business goals. As systems and devices that we use on a daily basis begin to anticipate our needs, the savings of time and money are multiplied.
In fact, a recent report by Deloitte that looked into how much time and money AI can save the U.S. government, indicates that medium to high levels of investment in AI technologies will save the federal government workforces 15 to 28 percent of all their labour hours – which implies a dollar saving of up to $41.1 billion!
But AI is not meant merely for large enterprises or governments. As cost-effective AI collaboration platforms come to market, small and medium-sized businesses can also take advantage of the predictive and prescriptive benefits of AI.
However, this implies a shift in the way we normally approach our day-to-day activities. Habits can be hard to break, even if it means pulling ourselves away from siloed applications that in fact, decrease our productivity. That’s why the move to AI-based work platforms will require management teams to think differently about how we approach work – it will require a fresh workplace culture that aspires for collaboration and high productivity.
While artificial intelligence does not claim to be the silver bullet for all our workplace woes – at least not yet – it promises to muffle the pain points of our mundane work loads so we can focus on what we truly enjoy, reigniting the passion for our jobs.
Guest blog by Andrew Bourne. Andrew is the Global Chief Technology Officer at Bolste. He has over 20 years of experience leading companies in the data and predictive analytics space.