The allure of emerging technologies, such as AI, cannot be ignored, especially as business leaders see how this technology can reduce costs and increase revenue. That said, only 25% of companies have an enterprise-wide AI strategy. And for employees, even with the appeal of better data-driven decisions, higher productivity, improved collaboration, and generally increased efficiency, the shift to AI can be a daunting period of transition.
CIO.com recently published an article on AI success stories and the current ramp up in AI projects today. The author offered an insider’s view of how IT leaders are leveraging the dream team of AI and machine learning to solve business problems. The article referenced a recent Gartner survey that revealed an expected increase in AI projects over the next 12 months. Early adopter organizations are already working with AI and machine learning and have four AI/ML projects underway. And by 2022, the surveyed organizations are expecting to have an average of 35 projects in place
Balancing Employee Expectations
The inconvenient truth is that while employees may need a little hand holding through the process of implementing any new technology, AI brings additional challenges to overcome before they are ready to accept and use it. The reason? The use of AI is often laden with uncertainty and concern over everything from loss of privacy to loss of jobs.
Employees know AI will play a significant role in redesigning the employee experience, but businesses need to be transparent about it. With clear goals and the results in place, it becomes much easier to educate your workforce and ensure they embrace this new technology.
For example, could our work data reveal areas for improvement? Our messaging, call patterns, email, and calendar can provide an abundance of data around who we communicate and collaborate within the workplace, through what channels, and the efficiency of the collaboration.
But this needs to be messaged appropriately to employees so its taken in the right context and not misunderstood. As employers explore new tools to empower their workforce, a lack of communication can cause misunderstandings. A Gartner survey revealed, that in 2018, 30% of employees were comfortable with their employer monitoring their email compared to only 10% three years before. However, the most revealing insights of the report were that this number jumped to 50% when the employer explained the reasons for the monitoring.
Building a Culture of Transparency
Before thinking about reaping the rewards that these emerging technologies can offer, businesses must take proactive steps to manage the expectations of those impacted by these technologies. Transparency is critical as it enables employees to see how analyzing new forms of data can help boost collaboration and productivity. Without it, many will see it as nothing more than corporate surveillance technology monitoring their every move. With great power comes great responsibility, and it would be foolish to underestimate the impact that AI and machine learning will have in the workplace.
Contrary to popular belief, robots and machines are not coming to take our jobs. Companies that thrive and survive in a digital age will be those that enable human workers and technology to work side by side. Both the customer and employee experience are equally important. It’s time for management teams to lead the way by fostering a culture of trust and transparency.
Originally published Jul 25, 2019, updated Aug 11, 2020