Artificial intelligence (AI) will have a major impact on the digital workplace in the very near future. IBM studies revealed that within the next three years about 120 million workers in the world's 10 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled because of AI and intelligent automation. IBM officials also found that 67 percent of CEOs believe AI will drive significant value in HR.
But, how is AI impacting the digital workplace now? Gartner reported that AI is currently being applied to areas that include collaboration (fee required), content services, intranets, human capital management/recruiting, IoT in the digital workplace, help desk/IT service monitoring, knowledge management, meeting solutions, search and insight engines, and virtual employee assistants.
Here are other areas where AI has made an impact this year.
From Basic Tasks to Knowledge Workers
With even more manual tasks being taken care of by AI in 2018, users of critical business applications will be expected to understand much more of the business processes and philosophies, according to Michael Graham, CEO of Epilogue Systems. They’ll also need to be able to apply critical thinking to their everyday job functions in 2019.
“Employees that were once focused on the execution of basic tasks,” he added, “will become knowledge workers.”
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Automating Tasks for Workers
Bruce Orcutt, SVP of product marketing at ABBYY, said AI-enabling technologies had the biggest impact in automating cognitive tasks for workers. He cited working with business contracts as an ideal example. Contracts are used for leases, wills and many other business transactions. They require someone to manually understand the elements of the contract, such as the entities and clauses, and be able to make business decisions based on the information contained within them. “AI,” he said, “has eliminated the need for workers to manually read the contract. It goes through and understands all the clauses automatically.”
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The Rise of Smart Digital Workplaces
Deniece Moxy, director of product marketing at iManage, said that digital workplace transformation across the professional services market finally began to take hold in 2018. For years, she said, professional services folks expected smart capabilities from their applications because of the proliferation of Google, Facebook and Amazon. “After first resisting these demands and then struggling to deliver such capabilities, 2018 saw the wide-scale emergence of comprehensive, AI-driven technology platforms that deliver mobile, intuitive, collaborative, secure, automated and smart digital workplaces,” Moxy said. “The digital transformation of the professional services market made professionals’ day-to-day tasks easier, reducing training and other costs for firms, increasing productivity and empowering professionals to be more creative.”
Providing Value for Clients
Increased automation and smart technology like AI has also helped professionals to uncover new opportunities to create value for their clients, Moxy said. “Such solutions allow firms to offer services that might have been deemed too extensive or cost-prohibitive in the past,” she said. “Or, it can help them to uncover hidden experts within the firm for a project they didn’t know they had the internal resources and knowledge to support.”
Anticipating Workplace Needs
Have you ever had the toner in your office printer run out mid-print? Ashwin Ram, product consultant for ManageEngine, said AI in the digital workplace can help create requests for things such as toner replacement before it becomes an issue. “With machine learning (ML)-based models, service requests can be automatically created for replacing toner and other supplies before they run out,” Ram said.
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Conclusion: Apply ‘Everyday AI Services’
How can you make AI effective in the digital workplace day-to-day? Gartner analysts Bern Elliot and Matthew Cain said in their “AI in the Digital Workplace” report that organizations can apply the idea of “everyday AI services” in the digital workplace. These, the analysts found, are AI services that appear in the “normal flow of work within existing applications.” Employees will be able to see improved capabilities such as personalization, recommendations, alerts and search. ML, NLP and conversational interfaces can drive these improvements, the Gartner analysts found.
“Everyday AI,” they wrote, “will augment what employees already do rather than creating entirely new ways of doing things. Most employees are unlikely to recognize [these types of] AI services as anything more than a feature upgrade.”