It’s hard to escape the hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and its expected impact on the workplace of the future. Much of the punditry swings between nightmarish scenarios where vast swathes of humanity are rendered jobless by efficient and soulless robots, or breathless excitement about its potential to create huge numbers of fulfilling new jobs as more humdrum tasks are taken care of by the machines.
One piece of research published last year predicted that worldwide spending on AI will reach $40.6 billion by 2024, and will become a critical part of business infrastructure. However, for many businesses, the hype surrounding AI is rather puzzling. Outside of fairly niche applications (such as chatbots helping people order takeout food), or the work of ultra-high-tech innovations such as self-driving cars, AI can feel pretty abstract to the work you and your employees actually do.
So, is AI in the workplace irrelevant for the average office or workspace, or will it have an impact on your organization in the near future?
For a full overview of the history and future of AI in the workplace, sign up to view our webinar
The problem with the AI hype-cycle
Part of the problem with talk of AI in the workplace stems from widespread misunderstandings about what the term really means:
- Science fiction has influenced our cultural understanding of AI, meaning many people immediately think of human-like robots when the term is mentioned.
- For those who want to dig deeper online, they are immediately overwhelmed by a barrage of confusing definitions and terms which are (often) applied incorrectly.
- Finally, the media focuses on the most eye-catching AI stories (self-driving cars, etc.), making it all feel irrelevant to normal businesses.
However, if we can look beyond these larger arguments and focus on the actual application of artificial intelligence in the workplace, it can suddenly seem a lot more beneficial and ‘real’ to the average business.
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Think of the spell check in your word processor
If the impact and potential of AI can sometimes feel a little abstract, think of the spell check in your word processor. While spell checkers are categorically not a form of artificial intelligence, they have certain parallels with what AI will be able to offer your organization in the coming years.
Spell check provides a highly useful function which ensures your company’s work is much less likely to contain grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. They mean you don’t have to ask every email or report to be proofread by an assistant before sending. This means your staff need not spend so much time re-reading their work and correcting errors, and can immediately resolve grammatical problems. Sure, spell check isn’t sexy, but in an often-underappreciated way, it has helped thousands of companies produce higher quality work, while saving time.
For many businesses, the experience of using AI will be reminiscent of spell check. It will provide new ways of getting more work done, reduce the need to carry out repetitive tasks and help employees focus on the activities which bring greater value to the business.
To learn about the strengths—and weaknesses—of modern AI, sign up to view our webinar
Examples of how AI will help business
The first AI technologies that most modern workers will encounter will likely be natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning. We discuss how these technologies will have an effect in our webinar in greater detail, but to summarize:
Natural language processing
NLP is best known in the consumer market, where tools like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can understand both written and spoken commands and questions. However, we expect its real productivity potential to shine in the enterprise.
Machine learning refers to the ability of AI programs to analyze documents, content and interactions between different users of a system and to spot patterns. It can then self-calibrate to provide more timely information to users and help them become more productive.
AI – your new colleague?
By moving beyond the hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence, and instead focusing on how it could help your workers become more productive, you will be able to prepare for its increasing presence in the workplace. To understand what workplace AI will really look like, make sure you sign up to our webinar today.
Learn how AI will make your organization more productive. Sign up to attend the free webinar here