How not to measure the success of an AI copilot

  • Posted on October 19, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 6 minutes
Measuring value of gen ai tools

The introduction of the internet marked a significant shift in how we accessed and processed information. It wasn't about saving time on tasks but about revolutionizing our methods of communication, learning, and collaboration. Despite the challenges and steep learning curve it presented, we embraced the internet, understanding its value laid in its promise of a connected world.

Today, we are at the threshold of another technological revolution with generative AI, exemplified by tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot, also known as Microsoft Copilot, which integrate AI capabilities directly into core workplace and additional enterprise platforms. It's tempting to measure its worth merely in terms of time saved, but this perspective is limited.

Early research of Avanade’s own usage of AI copilots, plus findings from our new global AI Readiness survey of over 3,000 people around the world, indicate these tools have much more to offer. In the next year, the majority – leaders and their people – (79%) anticipate generative AI tools will indeed impact up to half of their work week, but they expect AI copilots to have the greatest impact on day-to-day jobs by inspiring creative ideas and innovation.

Much like the internet, the real value of generative AI isn't in efficiency. It has transformative potential to fundamentally change our approach to work, amplifying creativity and expanding our scope beyond completing tasks.

Beyond productivity metrics: Stop the clock
Productivity metrics, especially those that measure output in terms of time saved, have long been the standard for evaluating the worth of new technologies. This seems logical: if a tool boosts our output in less time, it must be transformative. But this perspective is too narrow, especially concerning technology adoption. Offering more than just quantitative benefits, AI copilots have the potential to enrich the quality of our work, spur innovation, and set the stage for pioneering new solutions.

Drawing from Industrial-Organizational Psychology, the relationship between technology adoption and productivity is intricate and multi-dimensional. The study Strategies for Improving Organizational Efficiency, Productivity, and Performance through Technology ¹ Adoption underscores that successful digital transformation goes beyond the mere introduction of new tools. It demands top-down buy-in, a clear roadmap, and a culture that values creativity and collaboration. But there's more, by focusing solely on minutes saved, we risk overlooking several critical facets of productivity.

Beyond time saved: Seize the true potential of generative AI
With early access to tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot, Avanade’s experience highlights more ways we can think about the value of AI copilots beyond time-savings. Consider these common scenarios that could impact our productivity in immeasurable ways:

  • Overcoming “blank page syndrome”: The weight of a significant task looms large. The blank screen stares back, almost mocking your lack of direction. How do you ignite that initial spark, find a starting point, or even just a nudge in the right direction?
  • A new perspective on coding: As a developer you are faced with a labyrinthine coding challenge, requiring more than a quick solution. You need a fresh approach. How can you find innovative solutions or alternative perspectives when forums and colleagues come up short?
  • Regaining focus: After a marathon of back-to-back meetings, you're mentally drained. You need to dive back into that crucial deliverable, but where did you leave off? How do you quickly grasp the essence of your progress and discern the next steps without sifting through pages of notes?
  • The final touch: You’ve invested hours into perfecting that report. But it’s getting late and as your deadline looms, you yearn for a fresh set of eyes, an unbiased critique to elevate its clarity and precision. In this silent hour, with colleagues long gone, where can you find these insights?
  • Dodging the mundane: Day after day, the weight of monotonous tasks takes a toll on your cognitive sharpness. Faced with demand to make an important strategic decision, the fatigue is palpable. How do you maintain clarity of your choices without being bogged down by routine tasks?

Beyond efficiency: Supercharge your people with AI
In the race for productivity and efficiency, we risk missing the profound, multifaceted benefits offered by generative AI tools like Microsoft Copilot. They can profoundly reshape our entire work ethos and life perspective, enabling:

  • Enhanced cognitive potential: Tools like AI copilots can free up mental bandwidth - not to cram more into our days but to unlock greater cognitive potential. With even a modest boost in our mental energy, we can be more imaginative, innovative, and curious. The benefit is less about walking a predefined route more efficiently but forging new paths.
  • Improved well-being: Expanded cognitive capacity ripples benefits outwards. Beyond work, tools that reduce stress and promote balance impact overall well-being, ensuring we’re content and healthy. By fully experiencing each moment, we may gain more meaningful interactions, deeper immersion in hobbies, and time for reflection and relaxation.
  • Empowered decision making: A decluttered mind, thanks to these tools, equips us for sharper decision-making. We can assess situations more holistically, anticipate challenges, and strategize proactively. It's a shift from rapid reactions to intelligent responses.
  • Fostering lifelong learning: One of the subtler benefits of this cognitive liberation is the spark of innate curiosity. We become more receptive to new ideas, eager to acquire fresh skills, and committed to continuous personal and professional evolution.
  • Quality over quantity: While speed is valuable, the quality of our output is paramount. Tools that enhance our focus and depth of work ensure that we produce not just more, but better.
  • Collaboration: Advanced tools amplify team collaboration, fostering better communication and synergistic results. It's about creating together, not just alongside each other.

While timesaving is tangible and valuable, the true impact of technological advancements like Microsoft Copilot is far-reaching, touching every facet of our work and life, pushing us to be not just faster, but richer in thought and action.

Avoid the productivity trap and seek to measure what really matters for AI
We are in the infancy of the AI era, only starting to visualize its impacts. When it comes to making investments that will support your people, processes, and platforms for AI, remember it isn’t productivity you’re buying – it’s dramatically different outcomes for your business.

Avanade’s own experience using Microsoft Copilot signals the same: our early research shows that as employees get more comfortable using it, they report increased usage, improved work quality, more effective communications - and yes, time savings, too. But cognitive fatigue is also increasing as it’s hard to learn new techniques and tasks with a new tool. No wonder our global survey revealed 98% agree that support will be required to onboard/train employees to use generative AI tools like Microsoft Copilot, and 50% say this training will demand significant support. Enabling people and giving them a safe space to learn is critical to help them be successful with AI.

Are you ready for AI? Your organization’s experience with generative AI will be measured in your own way with your own values. But through the experience of those with experience using AI copilots already, there are tips to accelerate adoption and usage in a responsible way.

To learn more about the greater potential for generative AI tools like Microsoft Copilot, better identify AI readiness gaps, and recommendations to adopt an AI-first mindset, read the Avanade AI Readiness Report.

¹ Palad, J. B. (2022). Strategies for Improving Organizational Efficiency, Productivity, and Performance through Technology Adoption. Journal of Management and Administration Provision, 2(3), 88-94.

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