Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown into a buzzword in technology circles. While the conversation around Artificial Intelligence picks up pace in the tech world, many businesses are yet to appreciate the scale at which AI will change their industries.
In commerce, most of the conversation surrounding the topic of AI is about how the mass adoption of AI will lead to many job descriptions becoming obsolete. While there is truth to this, the full potential of AI can only be realized when there is a lot of collaboration between human intelligence and AI. To understand how this symbiotic relationship will play out in the future, we have to look at how AI is complementing human intelligence in the workplace today.
Augmented Intelligence Is Affirming the Place of AI in the Workplace
As mentioned earlier, there are fears in some industries that Artificial Intelligence will replace human workers thereby leading to huge job losses. The reality is that the place of AI is not to replace humans in the workplace but to complement human intelligence. Another form of intelligence called “augmented intelligence” has been changing the way people look at AI. It debunks the stereotype that robots will take over the world and will instead assist humans.
Augmented Intelligence is helping workers appreciate the fact that AI is there to complement their abilities and not to replace them. Augmented Intelligence applications combine human intelligence with machine intelligence to achieve outcomes that cannot be gotten solely through the use of AI.
Augmented Intelligence has been embraced in several sectors including online ID verification, disease diagnosis, law consultation, agriculture, and predictive and forecasting roles across most sectors.
This collaboration between humans and machines is made possible because there are several things that machines can’t do – yet. Machines don’t understand novelty as much as humans do. Further, for machines to make effective decisions, they need large volumes of data to draw parallels and recognize patterns. Humans, however, can connect new threads and solve new problems that have not been encountered in the workplace before.
It is up to decision-makers in the workplace to decide which roles should be taken over by machines and which ones should be left to humans. Arriving at such decisions requires drawing an augmentation strategy which generally draws from traditional job design strategies.
AI Has Freed Up Time and Resources for High-Impact Activities
AI is increasingly being utilized to handle repetitive tasks in the workplace. Most simple formerly labor-intensive tasks have been taken over by machines thereby freeing up time and resources that are in turn being channeled to more complex and productive efforts.
This development is very valuable given the leverage and scale that is available to the average business today thanks to technology. With greater scalability, it is even more vital for knowledge workers to focus on high-impact tasks. What businesses work on today and the people and systems they collaborate with today is much more important than how hard they work.
One of the side-effects of machines taking over mundane tasks is that knowledge workers are getting more time to work on creative projects that are more stimulating. Such projects provide workers with a chance to level up their mastery and make discoveries that can influence key business outcomes.
In the old days, companies deliberately set aside time for employees to work on creative projects that interest them so as to boost morale and productivity in the workplace. Google, for instance, encouraged its employees to spend 20% of their time exploring passionate side projects. When Google rolled out this policy, they realized that allowing their workers to spend 20% of their time working on creative fulfilling side projects made them more productive during the 80% of the time they worked on their core functions at Google.
Thanks to AI, the elimination of mundane and repetitive tasks now makes it possible for companies much smaller than Google to spend time on creative high-impact projects. The result has been a predictable increase in productivity across the board.
AI Has Enhanced Decision Making in the Workplace
AI now makes it possible for workers and managers to get personalized information necessary for them to make operational or strategic decisions fast. Data can now be gathered and relayed in real-time to relevant personnel.
The availability of large volumes of consistent, reliable, and relevant data also helps decision-makers improve their analytic and evaluative skills through pattern recognition the more data points they encounter.
There are several applications in the market today that are solely designed to help businesses make better decisions. Most of these applications fall under the umbrellas of product-market fit decisions, customer relationship management, opinion mining, planning, capital allocation, talent sourcing, and labor composition.
Most businesses are familiar with the processes of rolling out applications since both open-source and proprietary applications are a mainstay in most business environments today. AI applications have therefore faced very little resistance in today’s workplace. The rollout processes have generally been smooth.
Typically, such a process requires the buy-in of strategic leaders, the formation of a business implementation team, and the formation of a technical team (an AI technical team in this case) and an infrastructure team. These four teams are essential if a business is to effectively develop or customize AI applications to help a business make great decisions using AI capabilities.