AI in the Workplace can boost productivity

August 29, 2018

Layan Damanhouri

Saudi Gazette

Digital technologies are capable of boosting productivity in the work place if applied effectively.

Research of over 7,000 global employees has shown that digital technology is positively impacting their professional and personal lives, Aruba reported. The research analyzing the digital workplace showed that workers are having more job satisfaction and 43% are more positive towards work-life balance in their lives. Over two thirds, 69%, of employees welcome fully automated equipment within the workplace and understand its role in building smarter, more effective working environments.

Another recent report by PwC stated that Artificial Intelligence is expected to account for approximately 12.4% of Saudi’s GDP by 2030.

AI in the workplace has caught significant attention and is at times perceived as negative rather than positive. While CIO’s in organizations are promoting AI to intelligently automate work processes, many workers feel threatened that AI will eventually take over their jobs.

Allan Leinwand, CTO of ServiceNow says that some jobs will indeed be lost. However, many more will be created. “AI is not strong at creative, interpersonal or physical work. It will be used for “decision support, not decision making,” he said.

AI will free humans from doing certain work such as analyzing data and repetitive tasks. This can lead to better work-life balance, Leinwand believes, especially that millennials in the workforce are looking for more meaningful roles according to the Society of Human Resource Professionals. "AI can automate the more mundane tasks allowing for new jobs to be created that are more fulfilling, strategic and meaningful.”

It will also allow people to learn new skills and focus on more efficient tasks. AI can help in better organization, reducing stressors and improve productivity.

Countering the negative notion of artificial intelligence taking over jobs, Aruba’s SE director in the Middle East and Turkey, Saadi Kawkji, said, “Rather than threatening job security, it performs tasks that humans alone cannot, helping companies to strike the right balance between productivity and safety. The best use of AI in the workplace is to enhance the capabilities of IT, not replace them especially when skilled IT professionals are in short supply.”

AI and machine learning allow IT teams to detect patterns that are not possible to spot with human eyes as well as personalise network access and settings. This means that staff can still operate in an environment that is built around their user experience, while being protected.

“By focusing on a mixture of choice, personalisation, ease and automation, organisations can improve both the top line and the bottom line for their business and redefine the future of work – creating a smart workspace that responds to a range of different work styles and personalities, while adhering to appropriate security and productivity standards,” Kawkji said.

Customer satisfaction is another area in which AI can help businesses. AI speeds up nearly every aspect of businesses, from identifying and fixing support issues to providing more accessibility to information, services, among others.

On one hand, it leads to more convenience. On the other hand, it allows for humans to be dedicated in mainly the creative aspects of their jobs and leave the mundane to the machines.

Arun Khehar, Senior Vice President of Business Applications at Oracle, says we should expect an exponential growth in the use of AI, chatbots, machine learning, mobile solutions, and social platforms.

By 2021, more than half of businesses will be spending more per annum on bots and chatbots creation than traditional mobile app development, Forrester reported.

“This movement towards using tools that mimic our senses enables us to communicate in a more natural way by augmenting the way employees interact with technology, data and information,” said Khehar.

However, there what needs to be addressed is how much customers are prepared to engage with machines and the extent that automation drives so much standardization, a company becomes too inflexible and unresponsive to the market, he said.

This is up to human resources leaders in organizations to decide and think of creative effective training programs which help people work better alongside machines, reassess hiring plans and taking into account how automation will require new skills, job roles and processes.

For companies to thrive in the face of ever-accelerating change, they need to excel at adapting to fast-changing market dynamics, customer demands and technological innovations. This requires a fundamental shift in thinking about the workforce. It’s no longer just about hiring employees, but rather maximizing productivity by combining tasks that can be intelligently automated and those that require human intervention.

Furthermore, AI can be used to the advantage of human resources departments, gaining deep insights into talent needs, understand where and how to source candidates, reduce time-consuming activities like manually screening resumes, and identify the right candidates from a large applicant pool.

According to the Forrester 2018 Predictions Report, candidates applying to jobs at 20 percent of large global enterprises will interact with chatbots before recruiters by 2020.

Built-in AI capabilities create a simple and personalized experience for job applicants, said Khehar. “New chatbot functionality allows candidates to search for jobs and get questions answered directly through channels like Facebook Messenger, while also automatically alerting candidates to updates and needed actions on their channel of choice. Alongside this, advanced machine learning capabilities help reduce the time it takes to fill open positions by highlighting best-fit candidates and proactively identifying prospects and employees who should be invited to apply.”

Machine learning analysis of the questions and conversations can provide a an anonymous voice of the employee, he added. It can reveal underlying issues perhaps before employees are consciously aware they of a concern.

Such models will now require executives to put technology central to their HR strategy.

August 29, 2018
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