Artificial Intelligence: From Novelty To Practical Workplace Application

Sven Denecken

Over the past few years, businesses have pondered what an intelligent workplace powered by artificial intelligence (AI) might look like. Well, the day is finally here, and it’s not as daunting or as intimidating as many might have anticipated.

While some organizations were apprehensive that the arrival of AI would result in worker displacement or business process confusion, most now agree that AI will ultimately benefit their businesses. In fact, Gartner predicts that AI augmentation will recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity by 2021.

Still, many companies are left wondering how these technologies will work to actually boost productivity and positively impact the bottom line. The good news is that there are a number of ways to implement AI based on your business objectives and goals.

How to foster an intelligent workplace

Businesses can start implementing useful AI technologies such as digital assistants into everyday operations to not only increase employee productivity, but also streamline business processes. The beauty of AI is that it can be rolled out to various departments on a case-by-case basis. If the sales team is struggling to streamline certain functions, then it might make sense to make the AI investment with sales first and go from there.

  • Accounting: In accounting, employees can use machine learning and predictive analytics technologies to match incoming payments to the applicable invoices, reducing time spent manually matching payments, and reducing the risk of human error.
  • Sales: Sales teams can use machine learning to identify probable orders and predict sales volume for more precise forecasting. They can also use predictive analytics to get a glimpse into the probability that a deal will close — helping them adjust revenue goals as needed.
  • Human resources: AI technology can streamline routine tasks in the hiring process, such as answering basic questions and checking off a candidate’s qualifications. This allows HR professionals to spend more time getting to know candidates on a human level by gauging body language, tone of voice, etc.
  • Sourcing and procurement: Machine learning tools can review purchase order confirmations and proactively alert users to potential shipping and logistics problems and automatically contact customers when deliveries are at risk of not arriving on time.

Incorporating AI on a personal level

Given that the B2B sector is largely influenced by trends taking place in the B2C world, it’s no surprise that Amazon announced Alexa for Business last quarter in response to business needs. You can use a “personal assistant” that combines machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics to do more than simply turn on the lights or dial into conference calls. However, in order to break into the next level of productivity, enterprises need to understand how to train such technologies to adapt to specific business settings, and to employees’ daily tasks.

One way employees can train their digital assistants is by integrating them with their work calendars. A digital assistant that is fully integrated with your work schedule could, for example, inform you that, after your last in-person meeting at 3:00 p.m., you should have time, based on current traffic conditions, to drive home and take your last call of the day from your house. That information helps you avoid rush hour traffic and still finish everything you needed to do for the day. A true win-win situation.

The importance of education and training

As previously mentioned, having AI technology at the fingertips of your enterprise is great, but only if your employees know how to work with it. A Pew Research survey found that 87 percent of workers believe that it will be essential for them to receive ongoing training and develop new skills throughout their work lives in order to keep up with the changes in the workplace, especially those changes brought about by AI.

An investment in AI systems such as digital assistants and predictive analytics tools also requires an investment in employee education and training so you can be sure that the technology is used correctly. Whether the C-level executive team or the IT department takes the lead in education efforts, any training you offer will pay off down the road as AI becomes more integrated in the enterprise.

Organizations will have to embrace digital transformation if they want to truly become intelligent businesses. It’s an exciting time to get started with the phenomenon that will only continue to gain ground in the enterprise environment. Start by envisioning how AI can be successfully implemented within your company, then begin planning how to make it happen.

Gone are the days of implementing AI just for the sake of staying relevant. It’s critical that businesses deploy AI applications that serve practical, functional purposes in the workplace to garner the best results.

This article originally appeared on CMS Wire.

For more on this topic, see How Artificial Intelligence Can Increase Your Business Productivity.


Sven Denecken

About Sven Denecken

Sven Denecken is Senior Vice President, Product Management and Co-Innovation of SAP S/4HANA, at SAP. His experience working with customers and partners for decades and networking with the SAP field organization and industry analysts allows him to bring client issues and challenges directly into the solution development process, ensuring that next-generation software solutions address customer requirements to focus on business outcome and help customers gain competitive advantage. Connect with Sven on Twitter @SDenecken or e-mail at sven.denecken@sap.com.