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The Enterprise and the AI Factor

Let's get nostalgic for a minute. Ever watch "2001: A Space Odyssey"? How about "Star Trek"? Think back to some of the futuristic movies or TV shows you've watched and their interpretations of what artificial intelligence (AI) should be. Now take it a step further and apply those to today's work world. Is your mind going to walking, talking automatons, or perhaps more realistically, work computers that can communicate so naturally, you'd swear they were actually super humans?

The thing is, this isn't Hollywood. And especially in today's corporate world, AI is its own animal. In business, it's not usually about a talking robot maid like from "The Jetsons" (though I have no doubt that would be appreciated in many a tech startup). It's about collaborating as teams and, in the end, making companies better and faster, not to mention making resources less expensive.

When it comes to utilizing AI in a corporate context, the questions then become:

  1. How do we create better products and streamline processes to make stronger teams?
  2. How can we leverage this to increase revenue?

To start, let's look at the overall purpose of AI in the enterprise -- arguably, to enhance human interactions. Twenty years ago, promises around AI hit a wall, with the rudimentary databases of the time stifling AI's true potential. Flash forward to today, when we have unlimited, inexpensive storage that can process huge amounts of data in real-time, and AI use cases that were previously thought unattainable are now executable. In other words, workers are now able to use AI in increasingly more effective ways -- and the potential is limitless.

Take something as simple as a chat bot. A bot that previously only had the capacity to answer simple questions can now conquer much bigger feats at work. An AI-enabled bot is not only able to book executive travel, it also is able to utilize data to recommend hotels, flights, recognize previous combinations of efficient travel plans and help with scheduling. And when you add machine learning into the mix, the chat bot could improve these recommendations with time.

As another example, let's look at a consulting firm that's trying to leverage its knowledge base to identify customers and resolve problems faster. If information is captured about previous interactions (and the decisions surrounding them), an AI-based digital work environment can anticipate the needs of the consultants and recommend actions that lead to the most successful outcomes. This means the AI system will enable consultants to retain more customers, learn from their wins (and mistakes), and better identify the types of customers that have been most profitable historically.

The Digital Workplace

As AI continues to evolve, it's becoming more tangible, and current digital workplace models move in line with AI technology's progression.

This progression can already be seen in the emergence of digital work hubs -- comprehensive platforms meant to store data, boost collaboration, and increase team communication. These types of platforms allow businesses to prevent data silos and enable tools to seamlessly speak to each other, thereby setting the stage for AI in their own companies.

For example, let's imagine that a company has a huge project they're working on with a partnership in China. An employee could enter the project into their digital work hub and with AI being leveraged, he or she would get asked smart questions from the system like, "I see you've created a project like this before. Would you like to reuse that information to start your current project?" The technology could even go as far as alerting the creator that "Sherry in the Phoenix office speaks Mandarin. Would you like to add her to the project?" What's more, AI could go outside the work hub and scour the Web for articles, resources and best practices that could help create better outcomes.

With an ultimate goal of yielding faster and more reliable decisions, AI is leading the charge when it comes to modeling natural human behavior. This translates to a workplace that streamlines formerly cumbersome processes, supporting workers to figure out exactly where more value can be extracted. In short, workplaces that embrace digital hubs and AI technology are digitally fortifying how teams work together.

Artificial intelligence promotes a different way of thinking. It also demands a shift in management's approach to work and a culture shift among the employees using these AI-enabled digital work hubs. While it may not always be an easy change, the benefits of AI in the workplace can range from financial boosts to increased flexibility, ultimately allowing employees to focus on what they're passionate about, learn faster, and grow their talents like never before.