Article

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt 8 October 2020

Working Smarter, Not Harder: Making Things Easier with AI

For most, artificial intelligence is something you'd only see in movies where big scary robots are trying to take over the world. Yet, in recent times it's ended up being a lot more accessible to us average folk, specifically in business.

With modern technology advancing at an exponential rate, there are now a variety of ways that AI can be used to improve your day, especially at work. Streamlining processes such as employment, task management and also information evaluation - smart software programs are fast becoming a vital resource when it comes to assisting a workforce.

But...will AI replace human employees? In short, no - AI does have its limitations. While the use of AI may be frowned up or even feared by some, what we're really seeing today is a means for businesses to actually boost productivity, a chance to effectively manage a workforce as well as allowing your staff to take much better care of the everyday tasks that everyone hates doing. If anything, it's making things MORE human by providing staff with breathing space, improving psychological wellness in the workplace as a result. Giving you the chance to focus more attention on the good stuff.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Help?

It's estimated that just 23% of organisations have integrated AI into their processes according to Forbes. Yet, come the next few years, the artificial intelligence market is anticipated to grow by 50% and no matter what size your company is, it can be made use of. In this pretty cool infographic, Adzooma have highlighted a variety of ways that you can integrate AI into your business to boost productivity - giving you the chance to charge through the routine tasks and concentrate on the more important parts. Lets dig a little deeper...

Get rid of the lengthy, boring jobs

There are certain things in every business that no one wants to do, but they're required nonetheless. This is where AI can be of genuine advantage in terms of productivity.

While some could stress this is where they'll lose their job to a robot, it's in fact anticipated that there'll be net positive job growth into the 2030s as the labour force transitions into more skilled roles.

Here are some reasons why it's worth considering AI for certain roles:

  • Speed of implementation - AI systems can make countless decisions simultaneously, unlike a human.
  • Much less biased - It's hard not to cast some sort of reasoning or bias when you're human. This isn't an attribute of AI. As a result, any kind of choice it makes is entirely fact-based.
  • No dew point - AI should never wear out nor does it need breaks, which means the time taken to execute a job is dramatically reduced.
  • Accuracy - No human, means there's no human mistakes.
  • Boredom - Often, mistakes develop with boredom, it can be difficult to remain focused when it's a long, complex task. To eliminate this, humans often need a number of regular breaks, meaning it can also take longer to complete. This isn't a problem for AI.

What Tasks Might You Turn Over to AI?

I would never suggest you make staff members surplus to requirements in favour of AI, however there are particular roles that can definitely benefit from using AI-based tools.

Here are 4 roles where AI can help improve productivity:

Information Analysis

Most businesses will at some point have a need to collect and analyse large quantities of data to find trends and to help with marketing efforts - many will look to data analysts to assist with this. As social media and ecommerce now play a major role in how we promote ourselves and the increased amount of audience data at our disposal, it's estimated that there's been an almost 350% rise in the need for data scientists since the early 2010s... But with a typical wage of $130,000, that's not always going to be within everyone's budget.

AI tools such as Deloitte's LaborWise can provide managers with analytics to recognise high-cost locations, obstructions and even provide information regarding which areas of the business are overworking or understaffed.

Demand Forecasting

By using machine learning systems, you can evaluate patterns relevant to you within your industry and within your supply chain - predicting changes, supply interruptions and product launches. It’s estimated that this can lower supply chain errors via miscalculations by up to 50%.

Task Management

As before, I'm not recommending AI replace all human elements of a job, however it can absolutely lighten the load. Giving you room to broaden your skill set, and maybe even give you the opportunity to explore new areas that wouldn't always be possible due to time constraints. Below are a few AI tools that can be especially valuable for streamlining your task management procedures:

X.ai - Connecting all of your calendars, the AI processes will immediately work through your availability to give you and those you're meeting with the best times to arrange meetings - whether internally with staff members or with clients out on the road.

Otter.ai - Basically, it's like an AI PA system that takes minutes. Otter can produce rich notes from conferences, interviews and other important voice discussions - ensuring nothing is missed, all points are covered and everything is backed up.

Spoke - Essentially a Human Resources service desk, it can answer HR-related queries that are relevant to your business - whether it's leave requests or internal processes. If it can't help, it will direct the question to the ideal person in your team.

Skype Translator - If you need a discussion or query translating, it can do so in near real-time. Opening up interactions with any foreign market - perfect for those that wish to trade internationally.

MobileMonkey - You can train a chatbot to answer FAQ's on your website and if it's not able to help, the chat will be directed to a human. Chatbots are a great way to filter out queries and utilising them can dramatically reduce the number of questions that would otherwise end up being a phone call or email. According to Oracle, 80% of sales and marketing leaders claim to use chatbot software, or plan to by the end of 2020.

Marketing

If there's one area of business that's really starting to embrace artificial intelligence, it's advertising and marketing - specifically online. With Google's introduction of machine learning algorithms such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) for SEO as well as Smart Bidding for paid advertising, how the industry functions is now significantly geared towards AI and automation.

Improvements in AI and intelligent software have allowed businesses to customise their products and services better, giving consumers a much more personalised journey as they move through the sales funnel. Recent research by Accenture suggests that consumers are responding well to this, with 83% of customers in the United States and the UK willing to part with their personal data in order to obtain more customised, appropriate results.

The willingness from customers to feed back to businesses in this way is encouraging and it's estimated that 64% of B2B marketing professionals consider AI to be an important part of their processes when devising a new strategy.

Using AI in the Recruitment Process 

One of the biggest (and probably most time consuming) parts of running a business where artificial intelligence can be used is the recruitment process. When recruiting, creating the biggest pool of suitable candidates is vital. AI can help you pre-screen, verify and organise your potential new employees with precision and speed - all while taking a completely unbiased approach.

Making use of recruitment agencies for pre-screening is common, but it can be expensive. It's also likely to take longer than an AI program would. Recruiters are essentially profit-driven too, so are likely to tip the scale in their favour when it comes to finding you suitable candidates. This isn't something AI cares for.

AI tools such as Pymetrics utilise a collection of "honest AI games" to examine a prospect's cognitive and psychological traits, whilst steering clear of demographic bias. It can also match the results versus existing employees who do well, offering you a clearer idea of where a candidate may fit within your business. By choosing these processes, it's claimed that it can take up to 75% less time to hire someone as well as boost retention by up to 50% - because it's not only important for a person to fit a business, but that business has to fit the person, too.

Learning With AI

Beyond recruitment, we can also use AI to educate staff - this can be especially beneficial when on-boarding a number of new starters at the same time. If your business has a particular way of taking care of certain jobs, AI can ensure training is consistent, concise and fully monitored - ensuring everyone gets the training they need. There are a few AI programs that can be made use of for on-site training, below are 2 in particular that deserve a shoutout:

Mentoring tools such as Chorus can evaluate sales calls as they happen, offering real-time tips to sales reps without the added stress of having someone watching over their shoulder (we all know what this is like). This means there should be little need for shadowing and the sales rep is able to learn at their own pace and experience the training "on the job".

A similar tool called Cogito can provide real-time advice while making a call, however it concentrates a lot more on mindfulness and your processes. For instance, when finding your feet in a new role, it's quite common to speak more quickly in conversation due to nerves, this tool can remind you to "chill" and give you tips on how to calm your nerves and get the best out of a conversation, mentally. Essentially, it's CBT for sales and marketing people.

What Will The Relationship Between AI and Businesses Look Like in The Future?

Combining business with AI seems inevitable, whether we like it or not. As increasingly more businesses seek to accept technology and automation, to prevent it could mean you start to fall to the back of the race.

Those businesses that have incorporated AI into their workflow strategy already, are seen to be making tangible gains when it comes to speed, performance and precision in spite of concern that it could put an end to human jobs. At the heart of the matter, those roles that were generally lengthy, resource-intensive or tiresome, are now being transformed into more powerful, more highly-skilled roles with a better work/life balance. Giving staff more opportunity to do the things they enjoy both professionally and personally.

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