Preparing workforce for GenAI goes beyond productivity and efficiency

  • Posted on November 3, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
gen ai boosts productivity and efficiency

Generative AI was unleashed en masse over the course of 2022 and early 2023, as tech innovators demonstrated its ability to boost productivity and streamline operations like never before. Research by the National Bureau of Economic Research has shown that generative AI boosts productivity by 14%, reduces stress and increases employee retention in customer support roles. Goldman Sachs Research also predicts generative AI “could drive a seven percent (or almost $7 trillion) increase in global GDP and lift productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over a 10-year period”.

Business leaders operating in nearly every industry are embracing generative AI to reach these productivity gains. New research from Avanade and McGuire Research Services of IT and business decision makers shows that organizations are already using this technology today and seeking to push the limits in the coming year. They are primarily using it for automating regular repetitive tasks, translating vast amounts of data to help employees make better decisions, and personalizing or streamlining touchpoints with customers/citizens/beneficiaries.

And by end of 2024, business and IT leaders say generative AI will have the greatest impact on their organization’s employees’ day-to-day jobs by inspiring creative ideas and innovation and taking more intelligent actions with assistance from generative AI tools, like Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Microsoft 365 Copilot, set to be available from 1 November 2023, will drastically change the way of working for many companies and all kinds of worker. This technology uses AI to support Collaboration Tools like Teams and Outlook, to accelerate preparation of presentations on PowerPoint, write proposals, reports, schedule meetings – entirely transforming the way businesses harness technology.

Overall, workers feel that generative AI tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot will play a positive impact in their personal roles, removing some of the common frictions, most repetitive and low value activities. They anticipate it will make them more efficient, innovative, satisfied, and empowered. They anticipate being less frustrated, threatened, isolated, and replaceable.

However, while these potential benefits of generative AI tools are widely acknowledged, how prepared are we to integrate them into our businesses and daily activities at work? Preparedness is key to gain a competitive advantage. We need our workforces to understand that the technology is not just a way to increase productivity, to improve processes, and to accelerate everything we do. We need to think differently, adopt a new approach to work experience. We need to unlearn certain habits and learn new habits. We need to understand how to work more iteratively, to truly collaborate with the machine and readjust work habits to be more productive with an AI Copilot.

To be a successful AI-first organization, means to be a People-first organization. And we can use generative AI to become the best versions of ourselves, to be enabled to do things that we haven't been able to do before, and to discover new sides of ourselves that help us to truly realize our full promise and potential.

If we look broadly across the world, the three use cases for generative AI which are the most common right now are knowledge finding and “transformation”. There is also a rapidly growing use case around helping employees better serve customers by accelerating knowledge access and transformation into the right information and command set. I'm particularly excited about democratizing access to data and insights. So, basically allowing AI to reason on top of data and to help people who are less experienced in understanding analytics and data science to get the insights which would previously only have been available to the experts for building complex advanced analytics models.

Now is the time to set the bar and the expectations higher and go beyond just productivity and efficiency - to think about how generative AI can help people to gain new opportunities in terms of more qualified time and new abilities and skills to improve their professional careers. Perhaps even finding a better balance between their professional and personal careers, and to break down the walls we've had since the industrial revolution between different type of workers. White-collar and blue-collar workers for example might become able to access similar data and information set distributed with languages and tones that can be easily understood by each of us, regardless level of education or spoken language.

Working with an AI Copilot isn’t necessarily something which happens in by itself. I would encourage business, people, and IT leaders to be mindful about this and not just switch the product on and expect magic to happen. It takes unlearning and relearning new habits for all of us.

Take the time to adjust your mindsets now and enable your workplace and workforce to do the same, so that we can all leverage this technology in the most valuable way. Start by:

  • Making sure your knowledge capital is well structured and organized.
  • Identifying a list of possible areas or process areas where you can help to evolve the way you work and prepare your people for an AI future.
  • Building a foundational knowledge to democratize AI and make everybody in the organization understands the basic meaning, features and value of the new tools.
  • Engaging early adopters that can help understand impact, timely refine, and enrich the adoption plan and then drive positive change.

In this context, Copilots should not be merely regarded as technological tools, but seen as partners that can help us achieve more goals and aspirations. They can assist us in performing tasks that are repetitive, tedious, or complex, while also providing us with suggestions, insights, and feedback that can inspire us to think differently, learn new skills, and explore new possibilities. They can connect us with other people who share our interests, challenges, and visions, and enable us to collaborate across boundaries and disciplines.

Thus, Copilots and other generative AI tools can empower us to unleash our "brainware" and to create more value for ourselves, our organizations, and our society.

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