AI: The secret to getting noticed at work?

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Written by John Michaelis on 13 November 2020 in Opinion
Opinion

John Michaelis on how use AI to improve organisational success, and get ahead in your career.

It might seem a strange notion, but instead of replacing you, artificial intelligence might actually transform your job and you along with it if you choose to embrace it.

Let’s agree you are ambitious; let’s suppose you’ve been with your company for about three years, have perhaps even been promoted, and feel certain you have earned respect among peers, the senior management team and the company in general.

But you might not be unique and your firm already has many bright individuals and the competition for progression is becoming more intense. You need to stand out and demonstrate that you are forward thinking and a potential leader or senior executive; could encouraging AI adoption be the answer?

Being candid, there are many corporate environments that could be classed as toxic: perhaps highly politicised where job insecurity, increased workload and anxiety is the norm. If you could demonstrate how AI could actually provide a way of lessening these aspects and inspire your colleagues and managers to implement it, you will certainly stand out.

Making a case

The likelihood is that your senior managers have heard of AI and know they need to embrace it. The question, as ever, will be how. Remember, these managers will be open to strategic, visionary ideas that could transform the business, if presented properly. You will need to think like an entrepreneur to sell the vision; you will need to be clear on the problem you solve and why it will be beneficial.

Managers will be open to strategic, visionary ideas that could transform the business, if presented properly

There is unlikely to be a quantified financial business case or ROI at this stage; that can come later, before major project expenditure is incurred. Some of the near-term benefits you could expect around AI are: faster process turnaround times leading to reduced time to revenue, increased profitability, improved and measurable customer satisfaction, and more efficient asset deployment, to name a few.

Consider how your department’s impact would be transformed if:

  1. It were more productive, by having AI-enabled bots take over some routine aspects of their roles?
  2. You could give your team more real-time, contextual information to help them do the higher value, more human activities using AI tools?
  3. You and your team could better personalise the services you deliver to your customers, whether they are internal to your organisation or external?
  4. Your team were trained in developing technologies to enhance both their professional and personal development?

Sketch out key elements of the operating model; especially the inputs your team need to do their new jobs, the outputs they will deliver to whom, and metrics to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of the process and its output.

Data is the key dependency

To create the business justification, you must address the dependencies that exist for any AI initiative. Many enterprises could realise the benefits of AI more quickly, cost-effectively and safely if they could locate suitable data to train the system.

 

What sources of trusted data do you have?

Ideally, these should be derived from operational data collected whilst undertaking your business. This includes every customer engagement – remember that AI is effective at processing unstructured data; emails, tweets, social media posts, videos and pictures.

As well as collating data about customer purchases, browsing history and other data with empirical values, collate everything communication relating to your service or brand.

Retaining trust

Using AI responsibly has a positive impact on your personal brand, as well as that of your company. As public awareness grows about AI, demands for assurance will increase. To maintain the trust of your stakeholders you must answer the following questions:

  • Can you easily explain how the algorithm works?
  • Can you defend the output across a broad ethical framework?
  • What will your customers, staff, suppliers, the general public and investors think?
  • Can you demonstrate that the AI operates in compliance with data regulations and other standards?
  • What safeguards have been implemented to minimise bias?

Getting started

Once you address these points you can seek support to initiate your project; clearly you will need executive sponsorship and funding.

A potential avenue is proposing a small cross-functional team that includes representatives from customer-facing functions, business operations, HR, IT, finance and legal. They can undertake more detailed planning, develop the justification for the resources required and assess and mitigate any risks.

Leading the way

This is a major transition, which many will find difficult, perhaps even traumatic. This will challenge your change management capabilities, but prove how well you can lead a team if managed effectively.  Once you have mapped out this future operating model, you can decide what skills will be required. This will be the basis of the change journey and development framework for your team members.

In proposing and implementing this large-scale change, you will have played a major role in adding value to your business as well as your personal brand, all by leveraging the potential that AI offers. Business is heading in the direction of AI and robotics, recommend that your business stays ahead of the curve and they will certainly be thanking you later.

 

About the author

John Michaelis is the author of You++, a practical guide to how to be more successful using AI.

 

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