This article was originally published on ITProPortal on October 1, 2018.
Now that employee productivity and workflow tools have streamlined collaboration, what part is artificial intelligence playing in making these platforms even more intelligent?
Collaboration sits at the heart of any successful organization. Effective collaboration has, and always will, come down to a company culture that nurtures and rewards engagement. The difference is that, increasingly today, businesses are turning to technology to help make it happen.
We’ve all witnessed the emergence, and rising popularity, of conversational workplace platforms such as Slack, Google Hangouts, IBM Watson Workspace and Workplace by Facebook, to name a few. These platforms operate as communication hubs, linking business units, teams and data sources, as well as integrating with third party apps, and, according to research from Kinsey, can improve your company’s productivity by 20 to 30%.
These tools have gone a long way to bring together teams - remote or not - through an ease of engagement that streamlines collaboration and workflow. The application of AI, machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) has also introduced intelligent communications to these workplace platforms, heralding a whole new wave of conversational collaboration for businesses.
While collaboration platforms intend to facilitate a more productive work environment, the amount of information they provide can also be constant and overwhelming. Where AI steps in intelligently with Slack, for example, is to help filter and prioritize messages using an algorithm called ‘collaborative filtering.’ Based off your behavior and the frequency of interactions with others across your business, it can predict your interests and preferences to offer you ‘highlights’ that it deems most relevant. It streamlines communication and fosters collaboration while saving time and resources.
Much focus around the application of AI has centered around customer-centric practices. You’ve no doubt had your own experiences with chatbots as corporations look to scale and streamline their customer experience and conversational interactions.
Less so, has the discussion been around how businesses can look inward and introduce AI enterprise tools to streamline productivity and processes internally. However, it makes sense that the same rationale behind personal assistants should also be applied to a professional workplace.
Much in the same way that virtual assistants are learning about our personal routines and preferences, machine learning has the potential to recognize opportunities, patterns and insights to drive collaboration across both internal and external stakeholders. There is now no need to ask colleagues to send you an email with notes from a missed meeting - there’s a bot to do that for you.
By drawing on data and content to drive more insightful collaborative conversations, AI will help make decision-making easier and eliminate administrative tasks with the help of AI assistants and bots to automate interactions.
While the rise of AI has ignited fear in some industries that roles will be made redundant, AI is really about giving employees the space to be more effective in their job. In fact, AI and machine learning software has its best success when it works alongside human skills to complement and augment capabilities, not replace them. This sparks a whole new area of collaboration, where the speed, scalability and quantitative capabilities of AI work in harmony with the strengths that set humans apart - leadership, teamwork, creativity and emotional intelligence. Machines are not taking away from human skills, they’re amplifying and assisting existing skills, while heightening the space for creativity.
Therefore, in order for businesses to get the most out of technology, they’ll need to first understand where inefficiencies lie. They can then reconsider their operations and processes so that a partnership between both tools and human resources are best optimized for the benefit of a business's bottom line.
In a survey of 1075 companies across 12 industries, researchers H. James Wilson and
￼Paul R. Daugherty found that the better companies were able to redesign business processes, embrace employee involvement, have an active AI strategy, responsibly collect data, and incorporate AI to complement employee skills, the better their AI initiatives performed in terms of speed, cost savings, revenues, or other operational measures.
This is not the rise of the robot
By removing the repetitive, mundane tasks from their role, AI capabilities will free employees up to focus on tasks that require creative thinking, emotional intelligence, intuition or problem solving - all important aspects of a successfully collaborative environment.
In this sense, AI is really about using decision-support systems to create efficiencies for your workers, giving them the information and insights they need to quickly make decisions, so they have more time - and headspace - for productive, meaningful tasks.