Artificial intelligence has taken the leap from science fiction movies like Robocop and The Matrix, and it is now very much a reality in all aspects of the commercial world. From voice-activated virtual assistants to virtual travel booking agents and manufacturing robots, AI in the workplace has made its mark and it is here to stay.
What is it exactly, how will it benefit us as individuals and companies, and what is the future of AI technology?
What is AI in the Workplace?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the development of digital computer systems and computer-controlled robots that perform intelligent tasks normally undertaken by humans. AI technology uses algorithms that connect quality data with fast computation services to enhance accurate and stable processes in the workplace.
Although some people fear that there are disadvantages and AI will populate the workforce and replace humans, this fear is, broadly speaking, unfounded. It is true that it is changing the way many businesses work but, used effectively, AI in the workplace has the potential to allow companies to work smarter and more efficiently, increase productivity, and improve both employee engagement and the customer experience.
Let’s start by looking at a few examples of current AI tools:
- Conversational chatbots
- Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa
- Process automation
- Sales and business forecasting
- Automated responders and online customer support
- Security surveillance
- Dynamic price optimization
- Automated web design
- Social media monitoring
- Proactive healthcare management
How is AI Changing Human Resources?
It’s not just manufacturing and customer service industries that reap the benefits of automated technology; Human Resources departments are also adapting their processes to the digital transformation. Many processes including payroll, reporting, access to policies and procedure and recruitment have adapted to the changing climate and most companies now believe that the merging of AI and HR functions will improve the management of employees, big data, and overall business operations.
AI-powered systems can help streamline and improve the hiring process by efficiently analyzing resumes and highlighting promising candidates. In addition, these tools create a filtered pipeline which helps recruiters select the right profile for the company. There are also many tools that allow HR departments to automatically schedule interviews. Other functions of these include: providing ongoing feedback to candidates and real-time response to queries AI algorithms also help to reduce human bias, allowing recruitment managers to rely on data-driven assessments and enabling companies to achieve a more diverse workforce. Many companies, including Vodafone and Unilever, are already relying on this new tech to advance their processes.
Another benefit of AI in the workplace is the automation of repetitive back-office tasks such as payroll, benefits, and taxes. This frees up more time for staff to spend on higher-value strategic tasks that are more focused on building the success of the company. In addition, automated technology such as chatbots and virtual assistants also allows for faster communications and better decision-making. Increased quality and productivity are also made possible by combining the skills of humans and machines.
Access to Employee Data
By automating data and building comprehensive data reserves, employees are able to use AI to access their personal information, request annual leave, amend emergency contact details and access authorized company details, enabling more time and resources to be dedicated to other more strategic business areas. Improved access to data also helps to bridge the communication gap between employees and management.
AI powered tools can be used by companies with a high turnover to track employee computer activity to determine activity patterns in the company and detect communication changes for employees who may be thinking of leaving the company. With correctly analyzed data and the right preventative steps, companies can intercept before an employee decides to hand in their notice.
Training managers can use AI tools to plan digital training and machine learning opportunities. This type of training benefits an employee’s professional and interpersonal skills. Chatbots can also help employees monitor their progress and complete online assessments.
The Future of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
Artificial intelligence in the workplace is here to stay, but what does the future hold for us? Will robots replace the HR department? How will the next generation adapt to the ever-changing technological horizon?
Predictions for the future of AI in the workplace:
- Automation technologies will continue to enhance the customer experience
- AI applications will impact business from the back office to the front office
- There will be a significant rise of virtual assistants, drones, artificial intelligence bots, & virtual tellers powered by IoT (Internet of Things) platforms and big data
- The job market will continue to evolve in line with new technologies
- AI will continue to enhance the product design process
- AI will help humans and machines work together, making for stronger companies
- Companies and employees will have to embrace new ways of working
- Self-driven technology will free up time to focus on most human interactions
- We will become increasingly dependent on data and algorithms
- Companies will become more efficient and customer-focused
- As more repetitive processes become automated, more time will be spent on research and development and other creative tasks
- Jobs that are routine are likely to become automated
- We will have an increased understanding of customer loyalty thanks to automated data analysis
- AI applications will discover more efficient ways of performing complex processes.
Technology is developing fast and those companies that don’t embrace AI technology will eventually fall behind. Although many people are worried that AI will flood the workforce and force people out of their jobs, this is unlikely to be the case. Undoubtedly it will change the way we do things and transform many positions. However, humans will still dominate the employment market and AI will produce more jobs than it displaces. Ultimately, this is a tool that will help people perform their jobs better and more efficiently.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but one thing is clear: those organizations that adapt and embrace ai in the workplace will have the upper hand.
Written by Cat Symonds; Edited by Tanya Lesiuk