How AI can enable workplace collaboration

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Few industries and professions will remain unaffected by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robots, and other emerging technologies. On the downside, this means entire categories of jobs already are in the process of being outsourced to automation or algorithms. On the upside, these technologies are expected by some experts to create more new jobs than they eliminate.

In between those two broad outcomes is a middle ground where human employees will work with AI and other smart technologies to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Over at CIOReview, Eduardo Cocozza, vice president of LogMeIn, a provider of cloud-based collaboration and communications products such as GoToMeeting, makes the case that AI can improve workplace collaboration.

For example, he writes, AI-driven technologies “will simplify a broad array of tasks before, during and after meetings with features such as scheduling, taking actionable meeting summaries and notes, and allowing for easy follow up on action items.”

For someone who spends a fair amount of time after conference calls or phone/Skype interviews listening to recordings and making transcriptions, this would really help me do my job. Sure, I pay a service to transcribe longer recordings, but it would be a lot better (and more efficient) if a transcription could be generated automatically and immediately.

And that’s just me: If everyone involved in a conference call received the same AI-driven services, the positive effect on efficiency, team communication, and clarity of purpose would multiply.

Entrusting “repetitive and low-value tasks such as note-taking, optimization, data search, and scheduling” to AI-powered assistants, Cocozza argues, “leaves employees with substantially more time and energy to collaborate and explore high-growth endeavors, such as focusing on idea generation, brainstorming and decision making.”

The trick, however, is to ensure that employees understand how to use these technologies (not to mention learn how to trust them).

“CIOs must not only apply AI to the back-end of their collaboration platforms and networks,” Cocozza says, they also must “equip and train the workforce to work hand-in-chip with future AI-driven technologies.”

That process involves technical training, for sure. But more importantly, enterprise employees must be encouraged to be “flexible and open to learning,” Cocozza writes.

Employees would be wise to take the initiative on flexibility and learning, rather than wait for enterprise leaders to provide opportunities. As the World Economic Forum concluded in a recent report, “We will all need to become lifelong learners.”

To that I would add that we will all need to become lifelong collaborators — with other humans and with smart technologies.

Comments

  1. Agreed that automation/robotics are without a doubt reshaping the way employees are feeling about their jobs and job security. However, it’s important to let employees know that the new technology is going to open up new jobs that have never existed before that simply require the human touch.

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