Focus on augmented humanity, not replacement
- 08 February, 2017 06:30
People don’t need to know they are using AI, they just need to benefit from the enhancements it can add
Advancements in artificial intelligence or AI (also known as cognitive computing) are ushering in a new era of work.
In this era, software will assist workers with mundane tasks, help employees prioritise work, and suggest next steps, notes Alan Lepofsky of Constellation Research.
The study of AI has been going on for decades, he points out, but advancements in computing power and access to huge data sets now bring AI capabilities “closer to reality”.
Lepofsky says in some specialty cases, there will be entirely new applications for the software. But software vendors are mainly focusing on adding features to AI to the business applications people are already using.
“In other words, people don’t need to know they are using AI, they just need to benefit from the enhancements it can add,” writes Lepofsky in the Constellation Research report on Why Artificial Intelligence Will Power the Future of Work.
So how can organisations prepare for AI software in the workplace?
First, he says, is to focus on augmented humanity, not replacement.
Organisations need to provide some basic education to employees on what AI is, what it can and cannot do, and most importantly, the use cases in which it can help them do their jobs, he states.
Employees should also be reassured that the future of work involves AI-enhanced software that will help augment their ability to get their jobs done, not replace them.
Some prime examples are doctors being able to more accurately diagnose patients, or knowledge workers such as programmers and systems analysts devoting less time managing data overload and focusing on the most important content.
He also advises line business managers to speak with their departments to determine current business challenges and then prioritise the use cases that could benefit from AI. “For example, is it more important to focus on customer service or marketing automation?”
Employees should be reassured that the future of work involves AI-enhanced software that will help augment their ability to get their jobs done, not replace them.
Taking a holistic view on vendor selection is critical in the AI-enabled workplace, he states.
Most AI platforms are cloud-only with very little on-premises ability. A key question for organisations is around data, he states. Where will it be stored and what access to user information is needed?
Amidst all the challenges that needs to be hurdled, Lepofsky sees the new era of AI in the workplace as one of the most exciting times in the history of software.
While technology trends such as cloud, social, mobile and big data have certainly improved the way people work, artificial intelligence has the potential to affect employees in far more powerful ways, he states.
“AI-enhanced software has the potential to automate repetitive and mundane tasks, filter information to help us focus, and provide us contextually relevant information to make better informed decisions.
“Never before have we had software that works for us, becoming a digital assistant that helps us get work done,” he concludes.
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