Are you AI ready? Making bots part of your workforce

Are you AI ready? Making bots part of your workforce

Max Smolaks

September 17, 2019

5 Min Read

by Alex Guillen 17 September 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been part of our lives forlonger than you think. Whether it’s helping you find your favourite film onNetflix, sorting your Instagram feed to show photos from your best friend’swedding, or recommending the latest dishwasher just when you needed it most – AIis impacting our lives daily.

And it doesn’t stop there. Recent breakthroughs highlight the extent of just how much AI is transforming the world. In healthcare, for example, the algorithms involved in AI are already being used to more accurately detect diseases, such as cancer, in their early stages. Additionally, in the midst of global warming, AI can be a critical tool for helping save our planet.

According to IDC, worldwide spending on AI systems is forecast to reach $35.8 billion in 2019, an increase of 44 percent from the amount spent in 2018. There is a clear focus on using AI to transform the way we work – with use cases such as automated customer service agents, sales process recommendation, and automation leading investment. In each of these cases, AI isn’t making major, intelligent decisions by itself. Instead, its role in optimising operations, transforming the customer experience, and even creating new products and services is a lot simpler.

Essentially, these AI bots are simply automated decisionprocesses delivering – or framing – specific outcomes. These AI algorithms areperhaps less glamorous than the claims many individuals and organisations makeabout the potential of AI. Yet, bots are still the path towards creating a nextgeneration workforce, helping to deal with time-consuming, repetitive tasks andleaving human employees free to focus on higher-value activity that providesgreater returns.

However, before you can reap the full benefits that thesebots can bring, there are a few things to consider.

Simplify, standardise then automate

The simple truth is you can’t automate non-standardprocesses. One may automate multiple sub-processes within a non-standardprocess if they themselves are standardised, but the top-level process itselfcan’t be automated unless it can be regularly repeated and produce the expectedoutcome… in other words, when it is standardised.

Anyone who has seen Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprenticeknows what can happen if automation is implemented without due care. Bots canbe a huge asset when processes are clean and clearly defined, but it’simportant to note that they’re extremely disruptive and counter-productive todeploy when multiple processes conflict or are loosely defined.

The key to successful bot deployment is to identify clearlydefined standard processes, or clean up existing processes so they are clearlydefined. You then need to deploy algorithms under the watchful eye of a trainedmember of the team to ensure workflows run smoothly.

And that brings us onto the next layer of preparation – puttingAI into the mix with people.

Bringing AI into the workforce

What we can expect to see in the next twelve months isorganisations beginning to view AI as part of the employee base, versus being apiece of technology. In fact, our research shows over a third of businessleaders believe AI to be the most beneficial tool for customer services. Asmore and more organisations implement bots to help with tasks, they areincreasingly becoming part of the workforce. Tasks such as responding to ahelpdesk enquiry by resetting a password, or transferring the customer to therelevant operator in the correct department, are just a small number ofexamples of how bots can help.

Just like with people, organisations will need to look atways to best manage, monitor and provide support for the bots they employ. Tobe successful, organisations need to have a culture that fits automation – inthe same way business culture has to fit all other sorts of staff, whetherpart- or full-time, Generation Z or veterans. Bots need clearly definedexpectations, parameters of operations, standardised and refined processes, andcompetent supervision to be effective, so ensuring there is a process in placeto support this is vital.

Adapting to AI to reap the benefits

As AI increasingly enters our workplace, businesses need to be prepared for this new way of working. Organisations should not only be asking what AI – or automation – can do for them, but how they can adapt in order to see the true benefits. After all, AI should no longer be viewed solely as a piece of technology – it is now clearly part of our workforce.

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