Is it prime time for workplace AI?

Lee Daniels, Head of Workforce EMEA and Workforce UK, takes the lead in voicing his opinion in our series of One Voice articles.

June 20, 2022

AI is already in the workplace - but it’s been hiding under the table.

Already, there are lots of AI tools out there that support businesses. There’s AI that handles data processing, reducing human error and improving data consistency. There is automation software to take over repetitive tasks; as well as forecasting tools that analyse data to isolate trends and make financial and business predictions.

AI is certainly more embedded as it enables smart decision-making. But we’re now seeing more sophisticated tools take over simple programming, freeing coders for more creative tasks. Look at GitHub’s Copilot, which converts plain English instructions into functional code. The user still needs to understand code but without having to write it themselves, they can work more efficiently and effectively.

So yes, we’re definitely now at a prime time for AI to come to life. People are more open to using new innovations, in part because technology has been integral in the recent transition to remote work. At the same time, there’s a demographic shift. By 2030, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce - and they’re digital natives who embrace rather than fear new technology.

AI in action

For me, AI has major potential in the workplace as a tool to personalize experiences for people.

One AI tool we use at JLL supports our change management delivery – a program that helps people get to grips with a new workplace environment and different zones for, say, confidential work or collaboration. Let’s face it, we’re all human and we often forget. The AI tool sends alerts to people’s phones or watches when they’re in a particular space, nudging a behaviour change.

Other apps provide insights to streamline the working day. Say someone enters a space enabled with this app – a message pops up on their device, greeting them by name or showing local information. This is where AI can really create the wow factor, by generating highly personalised messages, and it can also take the strain off reception staff because they know there’s an AI mechanism pushing out these tailored greetings.

I truly believe there’s space for AI to enhance customer experience. We’re starting to understand where different technologies can best help solve complex problems and streamline organisational design, right through to doing the repetitive administrative tasks.

Automation tools can help address current shortages in the labour market by taking over time-consuming work and supporting teams who may have limited bandwidth. Take fintech, where there’s a shortage of talent to pick up day-to-day programming – this routine work could be done by an AI program, relieving workloads so employees have more time for creative thinking.

This is where AI comes into its own – reducing the strain on people so they can focus on those parts of their job that can only be done by a human.

Map to the future

Certain demographics in leadership today remain sceptical of implementing AI in their business – and as with any new technology, there’s fear and reticence. Continuous education is paramount, as too is understanding the advantages and disadvantages.

AI is really good at turning complex data into digestible insights – but the value of insights depends on the quality of data. At this stage, effectively using AI requires some human interpretation. We need to consistently relay what’s accurate to elevate its true capabilities.

To really come to life, AI needs to be embedded in more products that facilitate daily work. We’ll start to see AI in the workflows of everyday programs – like the creation of a PowerPoint presentation based on a previous template and data or the formatting of a Word doc. A personal forecast could indicate where a salesperson should concentrate efforts, enabling more efficient networking.

So I’d say that workplace AI is in its late infancy but within 10 years, it will be a grown-up, foundational part of businesses. It’s fast on the way to becoming a resource that takes over data analysis and repetitive tasks, freeing people to create, research and identify new opportunities.

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