AI is about to reshape the enterprise workplace in a big and fundamental way, and any organization that hasn’t already started thinking about, planning for and adopting the new wave of smart AI tools is at risk of being left behind by their competitors.
Even at this early stage, it’s clear the benefits of AI in the office are going to be enormous, as these new tools work alongside employees — becoming a personal digital “coworker” — and augment our productivity and creative-thinking skills while freeing us from the monotony of the routine tasks that currently consume our workdays.
But it’s also clear that not all workplace AI is created equal — some of these new AI tools will be seamlessly adopted into your employees’ daily tech stack and workflows, like Slack, while others won’t be a good fit, getting the cold shoulder and ending up unused and unloved despite the best efforts of management and IT.
In other words, there is good workplace AI and bad workplace AI. The challenge enterprise leadership is now facing is figuring out how to tell the two apart.
Signs of bad workplace AI
Bad workplace AI creates more problems than it solves, holding back adoption rates and wasting everyone’s time. Look out for these warning signs.
Bad workplace AI requires significant customization to interact with and understand your office’s digital data. If the AI tool doesn’t work out of the box with the APIs of Office 365, Outlook and Google Mail, OneDrive and Dropbox, and the other standard platforms and apps of our workdays, your implementation cost and employee adoption rates will suffer.
Another example of bad workplace AI is AI that is not easily accessible by employees, who will be interacting with chatbots and AI assistants through a chat interface. If the AI tool doesn’t use an existing platform like MS Teams, Slack, or Skype, odds are employees won’t bother with the learning curve to use it, no matter how many training seminars you put them through. It’s in an enterprise’s best interest to create the most frictionless interaction possible when bringing in a new type of tech like AI to the workplace.
And finally, the biggest warning sign is AI not built from the ground up to solve the real-world problems your employees are facing. For example, one of the biggest challenges our offices are facing is the huge amount of time lost spent on menial, no-value tasks like booking meetings, searching for files and creating standard documents. These problems are solvable, and more importantly will deliver the easy and measurable wins you should expect from a new AI tool.
Welcoming good workplace AI
Don’t let these potential AI downsides scare you off workplace AI, because the potential of good AI can’t be underestimated. AI’s underlying technology has developed rapidly, and as a result AI has gotten a lot smarter in a really short amount of time, and can generate real value for the modern enterprise.
You can read a lot about AI tech like natural language processing and machine learning, but the key takeaway is this: AI-powered tools can now navigate and understand our workplaces’ digital information at the deepest level, automating tasks and unlocking new insights for employees while helping deliver major strategic gains for your organization.
It’s this advancement that is reshaping our workplaces and nature of work, from the cubicle to the corner office, as we gain the time, ability and mental energy to focus more on work that matters, while the menial tasks are offloaded to workplace AI assistants and similar tools, who we simply tell what we need done and get instant results.
For employees, this will unlock the literal hours spent each day on meaningless processes like coordinating and scheduling meetings and looking for documents across the cloud, apps and platforms are freed up. This time and energy can then be spent on high-value tasks. Even decision-making will be improved, as AI tools plug into and understand work data like sales figures, web analytics, and other metrics, making them accessible for all and generating new insights.
At the organizational level, these AI tools will help you hit strategic goals by quickly and easily expanding productivity, and even unlocking new sources of growth. While productivity is the easy win, it’s the additional value generated by employees being more engaged with the work they enjoy doing, putting more time and energy into challenging, creative work, that can result in major gains, like surfacing more ideas and innovation. It’s these gains that will help separate high-performing 21st century enterprises from their last-century peers.
by Roy Pereira, CEO of Zoom.Ai