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What AI in the Workplace Can Teach Us About the Future of Work

Tech often lets us glimpse into the future before it arrives. Think about how social media has completely changed the way we connect both on and offline; the way streaming services have (shifted?) the way we watch television, discover new music, and more. Cultural paradigm shifts are often brought about by game-changing tech- and the recent influx of AI-infused workplace tech suggests we’re set to see massive shifts in how we conduct business in the near future.

What can examples of AI tech tell us about the way work will change in the not-too-distant future? Let’s examine some of the AI tech solutions making waves in offices around the globe, and what they can tell us about the future of work.

Examples of AI and the future of work

Microsoft & Google’s Email Prioritisation

The product: You may have noticed “nudges” popping up in your Inbox recently; prompts to follow up on emails you’ve read, but haven’t responded to. These nudges are part of ongoing AI projects at both Microsoft and Google to transform the way we read and respond to emails. With 24% of employees’ time spent on emails (McKinsey), this is an area that’s ripe for revolution. Microsoft has written a fantastic article outlining their current research and development, as well as the roadblocks this kind of technology currently faces. Although there are many obstacles ahead, we should expect to see Inboxes become much more sophisticated in the near future.

What this tells us: This aligns with the most positive slogan from the pro-AI camp: AI means less busywork and more productivity. Indeed, we should expect significant returns on this promise in a relatively short space of time. Tedious, time-consuming tasks will become increasingly optimised and automated, freeing us up to spend more time on the creative, big-picture priorities.

Humanyze

The product: Humanyze deal in “people analytics”- namely, in providing useful insights into operations. Humanyze lets companies know exactly how changes to processes are affecting business outcomes. Humanyze uses organised network analysis to process anonymised data from calls, meetings and emails to glean how connected and efficient teams are, and whether specific process changes decrease or increase efficiency.

What this tells us: Closely linked to AI’s promise of greater productivity, AI should also propel us forward in the realm of process optimisation. Optimising processes is hardly a new phenomenon, but it’s becoming more accurate and scientific. Greater emphasis is being based on measuring the efficacy of process optimisation, and tweaks are being made based on behavioural science rather than hunches. Ineffective changes to workflows are going to become increasingly obsolete as we move away from gut instinct and towards scientifically-backed, results-driven process optimisation.

Cogito

The product: Cogito is using cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence to take the pain out of customer service conversations. Picking up thousands of data points spanning verbal and non-verbal cues, Cogito uses this data to offer useful prompts to customer service representations- for example, when they’re talking over the client too much, when they’re monologuing and interest is waning, or the exact moment a reassuring comment will change the dynamic of the conversation. In short: they’re making the emotional labour of customer service a little less laborious. Already used by some of the US’ biggest health insurers and credit card companies, they’re also expanding into healthcare, with an app that lets health providers know when veterans are showing signs of PTSD.

What this tells us: A strong focus on User Experience is here to stay. The shift towards viewing customer interactions as “experiences” and tailoring approaches to suit individual needs has been remarkable across industries. As with process optimisation, this trend is about to become much more data-driven and empirical. Sales, marketing and customer services are no longer one-stop-shops; each step in customer journeys is becoming more tailored, and we’re only going to see that increasing in the coming years.

Emma, by Bunch.ai

The product: Bunch.ai’s latest offering is Emma- an AI product that can tell you more about future clients and employees, just from scanning their LinkedIn page. Their app crawls LinkedIn profiles and uses jobs, qualifications and the language used to build personality profiles. With each profile scan, you can learn about someone’s personality, what role they play in teams, and what workplace incentives they respond best to.

What this tells us: The focus on User Experience will not only apply to customers; it will also apply to teams. Just as we’ll come to expect personalised experiences when shopping and interacting with brands, work culture will also become much more tailored to our individual motivations and interests. Much has been said in recent years about hiring people, not resumes– this approach will determine not just how to hire the right people, but how to retain them, too.

 

Eileen McNulty-Holmes is a writer and content specialist based in Berlin. For the past ten years, they have written, edited and strategized for companies and publications spanning tech, arts and culture.

 

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